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Nov 24, 2010 10:58 AM

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.