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dry-aged beef

Does anyone know where to buy dry-aged beef in Paris? I asked my butcher who didn't seem to understand me. My French friends didn't know it existed, but then my friend aren't into food.

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  1. Finding specific cuts of meat in a foreign city (Brisket in Paris? Roast Pork with rind for crackling?) is not easy. Aging techniques also change from country to country. If I understand correctly, "rassir" the French term for dry aging. Severo do it to their steaks.

    1. Les Boucheries Nivernaises on rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré sell properly marbled beef, not dry-aged but aged sufficiently for good eating.
      When I can afford that, I buy a large piece and dry-age it in my fridge.

      Aging is possible only with properly marbled beef and that type of beef is unfortunately not in style these days. The French rarely understand the importance of marbling. With the Charolais dictatorship (and charolais cattle is bred not to produce too much marbling) you have solid red meat which you can't age. Other breeds of cattle like Normande, Salers or Limousine are generally more marbled.

      Use your eyes when visiting boucheries: sometimes you'll come across nicely marbled beef which is worth aging at home for a few days.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ptipois

        There's also Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec and his shop Le Couteau d'argent in Asnière, just outside of Paris. He might have what your looking for.

        1. re: vielleanglaise

          Yes. And if he hasn't it when you visit his shop, ask him and he'll make it for you some time in advance.

      2. I think almost all beef is dry aged in France -- just have a look at the big fridge at the back of the store: big chunks of meat hanging. Is dry-aging anything different? The problem is that beef in France is usually not aged enough. But it's always dry aged, just as it's (almost) always grass-fed. Which is why your butcher did not understand what you meant.

        6 Replies
        1. re: souphie

          "The problem is that beef in france is usually not aged enough."
          That must be the problem then, because they never have the stinky beefy taste like in american dry-aged beef. If I ever work up the courage to go out to asniere again in this lifetime, I will definitely pay le couteau d'argent a visit!

          1. re: kerosundae

            What you need to do is ask your butcher beef that is aged enough. Some won't do it, but many will. When buying beef, just ask how aged (rasssis) it is.

            Asnières is a possibility, but, as mentioned, there's also Desnoyer on rue Boulard, the butcher whose name I forgot on marché d'Aligre but it's at the corner, and the Boucheries Nivernaises. All have good beef and are aware that sufficient ageing is required.

            Beef in France can we wonderful -- but it requires some work and research.

          2. re: souphie

            Yes. My mistake. Indeed the cold storage in the back of every butcher shop is for dry aging; when I wrote "not dry-aged" I was thinking of the very lengthy aging periods that are practised in the US and not here. But I got my info wrong.
            Actually there is no other way of ageing beef than dry-aging, since wet-aging is not really aging (you can't do it more than one week). The question in France is not really about dry-aging but about aging, and many butchers clearly do not do enough of it. One other problem is that very lean meat (as is the case with some breeds when they are grass-fed) doesn't lend itself to aging.

            1. re: Ptipois

              Ptipois, you will incur the wrath of many US steakhouses that wet-age their beef!

              The claim is, that the steak comes out much juicier and more tender with the wet-aging process. This is a subject of discussion now, however, because of contentions that wet aging results in little loss of product, therefore a higher profit. Wet aging is used by most steak houses in the US today, but dry aging is having a renaissance. About 1/3 of the weight is lost during dry aging, and, as you've said, it takes a lot longer.

              1. re: menton1

                My point was only that wet-aging being done over very short periods, it is not really aging strictly speaking, it's more like a form of sous-vide tenderizing. It is easy to understand why it can't be done for very long when you open large packs of sous-vide preserved meat or fish in professional kitchens.

                1. re: Ptipois

                  I do consider wet-aging aging, just because it's easier, cheaper, less space-demanding, and less tasty doesn't mean that the steak is not sitting there for weeks being broken down by enzymes. But it is not half as good as dry-aged, since most of what you're eating is water.

          3. In answer to your question, no, and we have given up looking.

            The taste and tenderness of beef in France, and I think in all of the EU, are different from those of US beef because French beef is aged for a much shorter period and is grass fed, not corn fed. The French method appears to be a point of national pride and/or monopoly.

            We prefer US beef and just don't eat beef when in Europe, which is easy to do without hardship as there are so many other excellent choices.

            .

            8 Replies
            1. re: hychka

              In Spain you can find a lot of beef that's aged even more than in the US, sometimes 60 days or more. They don't do that in France except in the Basque country though.

              1. re: QdeBro

                oh! so the trick is to get someone to somehow pass by Pays Basque and bring some aged beef! Is 60 days or more common in spain? in the US, lots of high-end steakhouses do much longer, even 6 months, but those cost not only both your arms and legs, but also your spouse's and ancestors'. It's usually just for the restaurant to attract media attention IMO.

                1. re: kerosundae

                  With ageing I sometimes think "less is more", I like a well aged steak but I find if it is to old it goes past its prime. Thirty to sixty is a good range, but 6 months plus sounds like it could be closer to Biltong rather than a great steak.

                  As Ptipois pointed out one of the reasons French beef isn't extensively aged is the lower fat content (marbling) of the breeds raised in France, this means the mat doesn't lend itself to long ageing periods.

                  I also believe ageing does two things, the first period of ageing breaks down the chemical bonds between the muscle fibres which tenderises the meat (thus most meat is hung for a period of time - this occurs in the first 5 to 15 days for beef shorter for other meat). The second period allows more flavour to develop and be concentrated as moisture is lost.

                  Could it be French tastes prefer a less intense flavour and thus not require this long second period of ageing?

                  1. re: PhilD

                    I've never tasted an older steak than 50 days, it's already pretty concentrated at that point, so I don't know how flavor would intensify further, i would expect flavors to alter in a very long aging process, rather than intensify in the same flavors, cheesier maybe....?

                    It's very likely that the French prefer milder beef, which would also explain why there's so much more veal sold here compared to the US. Although, they eat quite a few meats that are much stronger in taste than aged beef. Maybe they're just against beef =)~

                    1. re: kerosundae

                      Actually, if you taste the 60 day Kobe beef that Jégo sometimes has, it's pretty mild and it could totally be aged more. As with many things, numbers are not a reliable indication of quality and taste.

                  2. re: kerosundae

                    That's exactly what Jégo at Chez l'Ami Jean does. In fact, some of the beef you can find aged in Spain actually comes from Germany, but is aged in Spain. In Spain, they even do something that would be very illegal in France, and "walk" the meat outside in the middle of ageing periods.

                    1. re: souphie

                      "walk" the meat....?
                      I didn't know carcasses could walk..... enlighten me!

                      1. re: kerosundae

                        They just take them outside, leave their temp go up to 10-ish °C, and them bring them back in the fridge.

              2. thank you for all the wonderful advice, I'll ask the butchers suggested above to age some meat beyond 4 weeks for me and see if they'll do it. It's for a friend whom I took to to Carnevino in Las Vegas where he devoured a 50-day-old steak that he still sends him in a zone when reminiscing about it.

                5 Replies
                1. re: kerosundae

                  <<I'll ask the butchers suggested above to age some meat beyond 4 weeks for me and see if they'll do it.>> Still dealing with grass fed beef, so aging it more won't get your friend to "zone out." Instead, ask a visiting friend to bring along a sirlon, t-bone, strip, porterhouse, whatever, on the next trip from the US. Our German cousin is going home in a week and he is taking US beef with him.

                  1. re: hychka

                    Come back and let us know if it got through customs.

                      1. re: hychka

                        I haven't seen Customs do any more than a wave through for the last 5 years...

                        1. re: menton1

                          I would not try my luck at smuggling beef between borders. My DH gets stopped every time he goes alone, but never when with me; still I don't want to push my luck, I already smuggle more wine than I'm supposed to, so I need to keep my fingers crossed.

                          My dad gets stopped EVERY time between US and China, on both ends, never has a problem in the US but arriving in China, they always hold some "expensive" gifts hostage, last time it was 6 toothbrushes, the time before that were a few purses, they would tell him to either pay or pick them up when going back to the US. He's never had to wait more than a day to get them released thanks to his friends, but I digress... you think they would hold beef hostage in their customs office? age the meat some more..haha.

                2. Not Paris, but the HyperU chain of supermarkets occasionally has bone in rib steaks which are labelled UE origin rather than French origin. I suspect the beef is from Ireland.

                  In any case although not as good as properly aged US or UK beef they are very nice. Certainly superior to normal French beef.

                  We always buy a few for the freezer.

                  1. Just remembered: another great butcher that is not afraid of ageing (you need to have both the financial means and the customers willing to buy it) is the one inside the covered market in Neuilly, on av. Charles de Gaulle, called Le Carreau de Neuilly. Highly recommended, actually. By me, at least.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: souphie

                      Thank you!
                      p.s. went to Auchan not in Villejuif, and WOWWWW so much cheap food! I couldn't believe the length of the butter aisle, and Halal meat at really good prices. and they really do have chicken from everywhere!

                    2. I just learnt that Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec in Asnière dry-ages beef for 70 days, and is currently experimenting with a 100 day specimen.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: vielleanglaise

                        As Parisian revolutions go, this sure beats the opening of a couple hip coffee bars on the right bank. Bless Yves-Marie's little heart. Stéphane Jégo also has gotten into serious beef-aging too.

                      2. How lucky you are to be in Paris, try one of the butcher shops at the open Market in Moufftarde near Boulevard Port Royale. One of my favorite places in the world. You might have to find it yourself by recognizing a darker dryer meat. Just a shot in the dark....would love to go on that scavenger hunt some day....Good luck

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: scampi924

                          There are three butchers on rue Mouffetard but they are not particularly famous for their beef-aging. Unless something changed recently. Are you referring to the boucher halfway up the street?

                        2. I think ageing beef beyond a certain number of days is illegal in France, that's what my family in law always tell me anyway. They're adamant that beef goes bad if you age it more than 15 days. So I wonder how the butchers you mention get past that.

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: loukoumades

                            I never heard about such a law and no butcher ever mentioned it to me. The reason generally given for not aging beef sufficiently is the high turnover. Another reason is that (already mentioned elsewhere on Chowhound) the most common type of beef sold by butchers is unmarbled (charolais for instance) and does not lend itself to aging as much as properly marbled meat does (like Normande, Simmenthal, old Salers, etc.). If you try to age charolais to such extents it may well indeed go bad.

                            If Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec ages his beef for 70 days and says so, we can assume that he can legally do it. Restaurateurs have no problem aging their beef either.

                            1. re: Ptipois

                              I am not aware of a law governing the aging of beef either, other that of economics: With a 70 day old morcel you lose a lot of the meat, apparently upto 50%.

                              1. re: vielleanglaise

                                What a great thread!

                                I'm not from Paris but I am in cow country. I've heard from one local of a law limiting aging, but he's a bio farmer so his rules may be different. This is hearsay since I did not talk to the butcher directly (although I will). Other butchers seem to have no problems dry-aging beef on request. I've bought half a cow of Blonde with three weeks of dry aging and I could have left it longer.

                                What you lose with dry-aging is mostly water, but direct sale farmers are reluctant to lose even that weight since it puts their prices up a fair bit on a per-kilo basis.

                                I've eaten so many types of cow in the last few months trying to figure out what is best for us and it is very hard to find beef with a beefy flavor.

                                1. re: GersFarmer

                                  Norman cow has a very beefy flavor, provided you age it sufficiently. Have you tried it?

                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                    Hey Ptipois, I haven't - I've seen a few Normandaises used as 'foster-mothers' for Blonde and Limousine veau-sous-la-mere but never for sale at a butcher, although I'm sure they get there sometimes. Some dairy cows make good beef, but they're inefficient and the butchers pay little for them so folk don't raise them for that.

                                    That being said, an older Norman friend of mine recommended I try it. If I can find someone selling some I will give it a go. Or a maybe get a vache de reform to fatten up. It would be worth trying.

                                    At the moment my pick for taste from the beef breeds is the Gasconne or the Mirandaise (formerly the Gasconne Auréolée) but I need to try out some Salers.

                                    I like your focus on older animals, too. It is also hard to get boeuf here in France - we eat mostly female cows and the male calves get shipped off to Italian or Spanish feedlots. The boeuf I do find for sale is often young, like 20 months old.

                                    1. re: GersFarmer

                                      IMO Salers is good when you can get old cows. I remember the time when you could get meat from retired Salers milk cows in Auvergne. Fantastic, dark red, thinly marbled, dry beef. Now that Salers has become stylish, all you get is meat that is too young and not very tasty.
                                      I think you should try Normande when you have a chance. It is really the old-fashioned French-style steak, it used to be the most appreciated meat before Charolais took over. Normande has the beefiest taste of all the breeds I've tried. Almost gamey.

                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                        I agree. I spent all of my childhood holidays in the Cantal and the beef was nothing like the stuff that you find today - notably at Monoprix where they make a bid deal about it. When Salers became fashionable during the Mad Cow scare, the quality went down.

                                        1. re: Ptipois

                                          Very interesting point. The best beef I have ever tasted was from an 18 year old farm animal at Etchebari. Exquisite flavor, tender as love.

                                          1. re: Ptipois

                                            I managed to find a local (and retiring) Salers farmer and tried some basse cote off a 5yo vache de reforme. It had the most beefy flavor of any beef I had tried in France. The tenderness wasn't where I'd want it, but for taste alone it was the best of the steaks I have cooked here. Like you say Ptipois it was dark and had good marbling.

                                            The carcass had been aged about 7-10 days, so maybe with another couple of weeks of aging in the cold room we would have seen a significant improvement in tenderness.

                                            Overall, I was so impressed with the steak that I'm likely to buy a whole pile of them, maybe 20 genisses and vaches to fill out my herd. The flavor would be excellent in ground beef/steak hache.

                                            But what I really want is some aged boeuf, the 4-5yo steer beef. That is hard to find.

                                            1. re: GersFarmer

                                              Good job. I would agree that aging the carcass for another couple of weeks would improve tenderness. Please go on and let us know about your findings! Maybe you should start a blog about your experiences. France badly needs some beefy education.

                                            2. re: Ptipois

                                              Any suggestions for restaurants that might serve Normande beef?

                                              1. re: fanoffrance

                                                L'AOC does. Maybe not on a regular basis but try asking about it at reservation.

                                      2. re: vielleanglaise

                                        I checked with my butcher. No law, no. So I was talking rubbish. Like Ptipois says, the kind of beef reared here doesn't lend itself to aging.

                                        1. re: loukoumades

                                          Depends on the breed and the farmer. A well finished marbled breed like a Salers or a Gasconne would age. I've had 3-wk aged Blonde which was good. 3 weeks isn't huge but way better than the usual week or so.

                                          1. re: loukoumades

                                            There are lots of breeds of cows reared in France. Some tend to have marbled meat, some not. Charolaise does not have marbled meat. I have found Blonde d'Aquitaine and Bazas beef (delicious at is it) to have very unmarbled meat as well.
                                            But Normande, Salers, bœuf de Coutancie, and others, can have marbled meat if reared properly. These do lend themselves to aging.
                                            I also believe the taste for well-aged and well-marbled beef is going to undergo a revival in France. The sign is that an increasing number of restaurateurs are trying to serve it. Also that Spanish Wagyu is gaining some (deserved) fame. Generally they order it from Spain (where carcasses are also sent from France to mature), but I think the practice will spread.

                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                              Yay! I can only hope. I *love* the flavour of French beef, but we tend to not eat a lot of it because steaks are just too tough...so I'll work on the *gorgeous* joues I bought at the market today (12,50/kg).

                                              For those who don't already know, many small butcher shops (and even the butcher counters at some smaller groceries - like my local Intermarche) will have a certificate posted with a photograph and the vital statistics of the cow that was purchased for this week. It will tell the breed, the weight, and the age of the cow at a minimum...sometimes more.

                                              (picture THAT at your local Kroger!)

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                So, French beef has a certificate I can look at, while Kroger's has beef I can cut with a knife. Decisions, decisions....

                                                I know what you are saying and appreciate the delight of the shops as well as anyone. Seeing and appreciating these differences in the shops, how business is conducted and people live their lives are what makes travel worthwhile. In thread after thread I try to get these first timers out and about and away from one pretentious four hour feed bag after another at every opportunity. BTW this aged beef thread and the roast chicken thread have both been real hoots!