We’re now doing the dry-aged beef thing at home – and loving it. This isn’t a how-to post (although look for some links and tutorials coming soon). Here, we’re basically singing the praises of dry-aged beef and showcasing our new home steak locker. Maybe you’re in the market for a unit like this, so this will give you an idea of what it all looks and feels like. (It’s also gonna make you hungry and get you ‘hooked’, if you’ll forgive the meat locker pun…)
If you’ve ever had dry-aged beef – maybe at a high-end steakhouse – you know that it’s worth writing home about. There’s that rich almost nutty flavor, that delectable tender texture… If you’ve had it, you won’t forget it, and chances are you’ll be on the lookout for it ever-afterward. But here’s the thing – it’s not easy to find. Dry-aging is time consuming and expensive. Retailers aren’t going to spend all that time and sweet moolah – especially when there’s the cheaper, more time-efficient ‘wet-aging’ process available. In fact, when you see ‘aged’ beef, even at many upscale butcher shops (we’re talking from experience here), chances are almost 100% that it’s wet-aged (unless of course ‘dry aged’ is specified). Not that there’s anything wrong with wet-aged, but dry-aging takes things to another stratosphere. So if you’re like us and you’re hard pressed to buy dry-aged steak from the butcher – and you’re not going out for that ultimate steak every Friday night – you may want to consider dry-aging at home.
Before you get too excited though, be warned that this is not a cheap proposition. Getting set up at home is still costly (the unit we bought is about $1450 + shipping, etc.), and of course it still takes time, patience, and bit of know-how when it comes to butchering things up. It’s true that for the costs involved you could go out for a whole whack of ultra-primo steak dinners – but the thing is, you won’t and you know it. Not only that, if you love your meat, you know that price isn’t the only consideration, right? It’s just damn interesting, satisfying and cool to do it yourself, for starters. And suddenly (or actually, 30+days later), you’re eating the ultimate meal in the comfort of your own home with everything else exactly to your taste – from choice of beverage, to music, to color of weekend sweatpants, if that’s your thing.
As you can see from the photos, you can banish those images of yourself training amongst sides-of-beef hanging from meat hooks Rocky-style somewhere on your property. (This is a good thing because while you may argue that that would be pretty awesome, your wife wouldn’t like it.) You can think more in terms of a large wine fridge to get a sense of size, except instead of gazing at racks of Cabs and Merlots, you’re going to stare down a subprimal cut of beef for the next few weeks. (It’s a bit of science, interior decorating, and ‘caveman’ all at the same time. If you keep it in the kitchen, be sure that everyone’s on board.)
Our new Steak Locker (from Elevated Lifestyle Appliances) is just under three feet high, and about two feet wide and two feet deep. So, it’s not tiny but we didn’t have to build an extra wing. It has a stainless steel and glass design so it could conceivably incorporate in various locations in your home, and might even match other appliances. And all you need to do is plug it in, just like a wine fridge – no special hook ups or other DYI magic needed. But it’s worth noting that it does have a fan that runs periodically, and there’s a glowing UV Light to deal with bacteria. So if you can tuck it away somewhere out of the main action at home, that’ll work. After all, you don’t need to do much more than throw the meat in there and wait.
So far, we’ve done a 30-day aging, and then tried again with a 45-day aging time (definitely more of a mushroom/blue cheese thing going on with the longer aging – tasted awesome). Each time, we celebrated with a blow-out steakfeast for between 6 to 8 extremely hungry folk, with leftover steaks to freeze for everyone to enjoy later (and the frozen ones were great, too – not always the case with steak, we find…). Next time we’re going beyond 45+ to compare, but even at 30 days we got the characteristic funk and flavor that had been eluding us. We’ll keep you posted – and if you’re doing the dry-aging thing yourself, tell us about it!
(Full disclosure – we keep our unit is in the fitness room in the basement, so we are channeling that Rocky thing just a bit.)
– Ms. K