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Is Dry-Aged steak worth the extra cost?

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I've only had dry aged steak at a steakhouse, but my local stores all seem to carry it. I'm quite the steak fan - favorites are rib eye and skirt steak, but have just never bought it at the store. It's not significantly more expensive, but I have few complaints about non-aged rib eye cooked on a searing hot pan at home and wondered if the difference in dry aged was that significant in your home cooking experiences.

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  1. Given your specific set of circumstances I would have to say no. First, if there are two cut's of meat that I think Dry Aging is a bit wasted on it's Rib Eye and Filet Mignon. For similar yet opposite reasons.

    Rib Eye is probably the fattiest cut of any steak. Thus you get a TON of flavor from a regular rib eye as you do a dry aged. Perhaps the dry aged will be a little "gamier" in flavor, as most dry aged steaks are in my opinion, but I can't justify paying the extra cost.

    Filet Mignon, complete opposite. There isn't enough fat to break down on a filet to really enhance the flavor. A Filet is almost a flavorless piece of meat since it's so lean to start with. It's also very tender so the aging process doesn't do much to enhance that either.

    In my opinion dry aging works best with Strip, Sirlion or T-Bone/Porterhouse. There I believe the significance in enhanced flavor and tenderness is well worth the extra cost.

    Just my $.02.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jrvedivici

      Great, thanks.

      1. re: jrvedivici

        Just from what I remember of my own experience, I'd disagree with you about filets. When the Oklahoma radar site I was assigned to was shutting down and we were down to about 60 men, instead of government food our acting mess sergeant, an accountant by job code but a former restaurateur, was given an allowance to buy food locally. Among his purchases were a number of whole tenderloins, which he hung in the walk-in and allowed them to age, then on several successive Thursdays it was flat-grilled, bacon-wrapped filets mignon for all hands. There was initial resistance from some guys who thought it tasted spoiled - so unused were they to meat with actual flavor - but most of us became so addicted we were actually volunteering for KP, just to encourage Sgt. Snell to keep feeding us those things.

        I've never had another filet that rang my bell at all. Maybe the lack of proper aging has something to do with it.

        1. re: Will Owen

          But it WAS spoiled...that is what dry aging is...controlled spoilage...

      2. I prefer George Clinton to George Jones. I listen to both, but I prefer the funk.

        1. I think it depends on how much more it costs, but I prefer the aged beef generally speaking, even, or especially, with ribeye.

          The fat content or marbling is one thing, but what dry aging does to the muscle itself is what I like so well - the flavor intensifies and the texture becomes more tender without feeling tenderized.

          2 Replies
          1. re: inaplasticcup

            Yes - it's not fat getting old, it's actual decomposition - rotting, if you will. The British habit of hanging game birds until the head falls off is perhaps overdoing it, and it should be done in a clean, cold environment. This is why someone not used to the flavor might say it was spoiled; in some sense of the word it actually is, being on the way from fresh meat to carrion.

            1. re: inaplasticcup

              Absolutely correct. Aging doesn't do much to the fat, but it does alot to the muscle.

            2. f,

              do you have access to a restaurant supply house, Costco or similar warehouse buying club?

              But to answer your question....it depends who or where you would purchase the Dry-Aged Beef from. You really need to trust the source to know how it has been handled. Myself, if the purchase price was over 24.99/lb, probably not, as I could simply go out and let someone else cook it and it comes with sides. Let say a one pound steak goes for $50, then I could enjoy a 2-pounder at home....then the savings would be worth for me to cook it at home....The sides really would not be much of an additional expense, so then the savings would be far greater.

              If you can purchase your beef in small Cryovac packaging.....Tenderloins, Skirts, Flank, Tri-Tips, Whole Top Butt Sirloin, Flat Iron/Top Blade, Flap or Hanger.....you can do a combination wet/dry age process to get some pretty good beef. If you have a Foodsaver, then you could also get the same results. Basically, you leave the meat in your refrigerator for 3+ weeks, then you open the bag and air dry in your refrigerator for another 5-7 days. The benefit of this process is you will get more tender, nutty beef flavor without the loss of any weight, so the yield is better and the cost savings is significant over straight dry aging. You are purchasing for less than $7/lb for most cuts of beef.

              What happens is you allow the natural enzymes in the beef to break down and tenderize. This is what some of the big steakhouses do...most notably, Gene & Georgetti.(30 days). Standard operating procedure (SOP) for any restaurant worth going to should do this for all their incoming beef for at least 14 days.

              I did this for a small Prime Rib Roast and it was exceptional. There is no reason why you would not get the same results for a steak. You can see the steps I used in the following thread.

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8249...

              Maybe put a shout out to acgold7.....he does this more than I do and he can give you some better instructions and tips.

              1. My understanding is the main reason the cost is more for dry aged steaks is that they have to shave off some of it in the process - the outer surface becomes too tough and unuseable. It's probably a bunch of BS marketing, but at the very least I cannot see a grocery store doing something like this on a regular basis.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Atomic76

                  I'm referring to Whole Foods and Wegmans which I think both have their own in-house store aging contraptions.

                  1. re: Atomic76

                    You do have to waste a certain amount of meat in this process. The outside dries and possibly "rots" a little. You lose a good bit of weight to evaporation (which is what you want). So not only do you trim the meat away, but you lose water weight as well. This is one reason the price goes up for what actually hits your plate.

                    1. re: Atomic76

                      BS....I don't think so

                      Beef is purchased for X amount for certain weight. It's then held for a minimum 21 days, but usually 28 is the recommended number. It looses weight during the drying process and then more weight is shaved off.....which translates into less beef for sale from the original purchase price. Other factors like labor, inventory and return on investment determines the cost and ultimately its selling price.

                      1. re: Atomic76

                        I don't know of any big chain generic supermarkets that dry age beef in sub primal form for long periods of time like many of the top steak houses do. Back before boxed beef, they did receive hanging sides and such which many would argue received "some" dry aging and tasted better than today's vacuum sealed boxed beef. Today, many supermarkets receive boxed beef within 7 days of slaughter. Many do offer branded products such as CAB that grade in the higher end of choice and have a minimum of 3 weeks wet age.

                      2. Dry versus wet aged steaks are really different, and not perfect substitutes for one another.

                        It's not just the cost difference, but they're just so different on the palate the question of "is dry-aged steak worth the extra cost" almost doesn't make sense.

                        It would be sort of like asking is "Roquefort worth the extra cost over Swiss"?

                        For some things you want Roquefort, for others Swiss is better. And you certainly wouldn't want to eat either exclusively for the rest of your life.

                        Same with dry versus wet aged steaks. Some days you really want that funk from the dry-aging process; other days you sort of just want to tasty the beef in it's more "au naturel" state.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I guess that's my question, what is the flavor difference of the dry aged i.e. do you even notice? Is that flavor difference pretty similar for most dry aged steaks or do you find that for some cuts the flavor is less or more different? I just don't have much experience, but love a good steak so would love to try it but not if it's just kind of the same.

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            You definitely notice the difference between wet and dry aged beef.

                            I don't know the cut of the beef matters to the taste as much as how long they've been aged (and how properly they've been handled during the process).

                            All cuts of beef take to the aging process (either wet or dry, for that matter). How they take to that process depends on the cut (in part) but mostly on the length of aging.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Great. I think I"m going to go for the dry aged ribeye. My post was prompted by a celebratory dinner for a house of steak lovers and we thought we'd venture to dry aged territory but the local butcher carries both Porterhouse and Ribeye. Porterhouse is great, but my usual choice for a steak dinner at home is ribeye so I was leaning towards that for the dry aged steak.

                            2. re: fldhkybnva

                              "Flavor difference" ....That really depends on how long it's has been hanging and the degree to which you cook it.

                              IMHO, anything more than Med Rare and its a waste of $$.

                              The real strong "funk" flavor seems to come after about 40 days but as others has said there is a lot of trimming waste at that point which starts to add up.

                              We are talking whole sub primals here with a nice fat cap and preferably on the bone.

                              FOURUNDER above hit on a nice compromise which I have done in a similar fashion which works well.

                              Just as important as the aging is getting high choice / low prime beef. IMHO, nice marbling is key.

                            3. re: ipsedixit

                              Agreed. I love dry-aged, but my Mom always thought it was 'off', a bit too funky.