Friday, March 27, 2009

DRY-AGING OF BEEF -- EXPERIMENT #1 -- DAY 1

New Bern, NC, has been our home since fall of 1993. We do love this beautiful and historic coastal community. There are boaters and artists, but no beach bums, because you have to drive 45 minutes to get to a beach. And that's the way we like it. But, from the beginning, we missed our local butcher. He aged his beef for 3 weeks and it was to die for.
So, after 15 years of moaning about steaks with no flavor, Guy decided we would age our own beef. After all, you can find instructions for anything on the internet.

The first step was to purchase a dedicated refrigerator. Since we had decided to start with a rib of beef (because it's the easiest to age), we measured the rib at Sam's Club (where we intended to purchase a whole rib, USDA Choice, for $4.97/lb.), then hunted for a refrigerator that would accommodate it. Problem #1: We had no room anywhere for the fridge. Our garage is full to the brim and so is the rest of our small house. Solution: We put the fridge on top of our garage fridge. (What a hoot! We are two people and we have 4 fridges: 1 in the kitchen, 1 in the garage, plus the dedicated aging fridge and a wine fridge. Do you think we are food-obsessed?)
Next, Guy purchased a refrigerator thermometer and a humidity thermometer, both needed. The temperature of the fridge needs to be about 36F, right above freezing, and the humidity should be between 70 - 85F. We also purchased a package of 100% cotton cloths at Sam's Club, in which to wrap the meat. Since the cloths have to be changed once a day, we needed enough to get us through a couple of weeks. We put the cloths in the washer, with no detergent, to rinse them well, then dried them in the dryer.

Finally, the beef.

We brought the beef home and Guy rinsed it in clear, cold water, then patted it dry with clean paper towels. Then he wrapped it in one of the cotton cloths. Into the fridge it went.

I'll be reporting more on this experiment as it progresses. In the meantime, we're both dreaming about a delicious aged steak cooked on the grill medium rare.

And here's a little postscript: After our trip to Sam's Club in Greenville, NC, we had lunch at the Red Lobster, then planned to go across the street to Kohl's. But my eyes caught a glimpse of a brand-new building: The Fresh Market. So we took a little detour. And bought some of their aged beef -- a filet mignon. I guess we didn't have to age our own beef after all. If only we had known The Fresh Market was coming. It's okay -- Guy says he needs a project to keep him busy.



9 comments:

Barbara Bakes said...

Wow - aging meat! That's impressive!

Hairball said...

I'm looking forward to your updates on this project.

Cheri Sicard said...

I'm looking forward to updates too Judy. I have never tried this, but aged streaks definitely taste better. Hmmmm, now I have to find space for an extra fridge. Would one of those small bar type fridge's do the job? I could cut the meat into smaller pieces?

Judy said...

Cheri - Check out JohnGL's blog (alcoholian.com). He did his in pieces. We decided not to go that way because there is considerably more waste. All outside surfaces are going to get covered in mold that needs to be taken off. We discarded it. JohnGL used it. You might like his method -- it would enable you to use any size fridge. We measured a whole rib, then found a fridge that would take it. Our waste was minimal.

Elyse said...

You and Guy are hysterical, Judy! I can't wait to see how your aged beef turns out. What a fabulous experiment--and it's even got its own dedicated refrigerator!! By the way, I totally love fresh market...yum!

Coleen's Recipes said...

There is so much about this subject I do not know, so I'll be watching for your updates. I can't seem to shake the memory of (years ago) sniffing that piece of beef that had been in the fridge a day too long, and wondering..."should I chance it?" LOL. Please keep us posted.

Debbie said...

I definitely will be checking in for updates. This is very interesting. I know absolutely nothing about aging meat so I will be learning something new!

SLColman said...

Very cool idea!!

Amanda said...

Looking forward to seeing how this goes Judy! We buy a side of beef every 6-8 months, we have one doing its hang time at the packing house as I type this. Probably another 4 or 5 days and they'll cut it so I can bring it home. This is something I've always wanted to try with a prime rib roasts. I still have one left in my freezer from the last beef.