If you’ve shopped for beef or ordered a steak at a restaurant, you’ve likely heard the term “dry aged.” But what exactly does it mean? Dry aging is the term used for the process certain cuts of beef undergo to bring out the flavor and add tenderness.
At Oak Barn Beef, here is what Dry Aging means to us:
Right after slaughter, the beef is hung in a controlled environment for 14-21 days. The temperature is kept just above freezing as the moisture levels and bacteria are closely monitored to ensure that only the right kinds of bacteria are growing to help the beef age to perfection. It’s this precision that allows the beef to age without spoiling. As the beef is hanging, enzymes are breaking down and oxidation is occurring- and this is precisely what leads to the mouth-watering end product.
Good things take time! The chemical changes brought about by dry aging create a higher quality product with a noticeable difference in both taste and texture. Dry aging is a sophisticated process that requires expertise and time, but it truly produces a better product with quality you can taste.
Let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room right away. When you hear the words “dry aging,” it might conjure up images of dried beef, jerky-like substances, or tough steaks. Removing the moisture should lead to dryer meat, right? This couldn’t be further from the truth. To be clear, the outside layer of the steak does dry out during the dry aging process, but it is cut away before packaging. What we’re left with is a beautiful deep red cut of beef, begging to be plated on your finest china. The tougher fibers and connective tissues are broken down through the natural enzymatic process, resulting in the tender, butter-soft texture that dry aged beef is so well known for. You don’t need to do anything special when preparing your dry aged steaks, simply follow the same steak protocol you’ve come to rely on for cooking your steaks to your personal preference. The dry aging process does all of the tenderizing work for you!
Dry aged beef has a notably richer flavor. It’s hard to pin down the exact flavor profile, some say it’s a deeper, intensified beef flavor, but we usually just call it amazing. Moisture (water) is pulled out of the meat through the dry aging process, leaving behind the lean muscle, fat, and nutrients… in essence, the flavor. It stands to reason that if you water something down, the flavor is less pronounced, therefore, by removing the water, we’re doing the opposite. The fat becomes more distinct and leads to a much stronger flavor profile.
The best candidates for dry aging will have a high fat content, whether it’s in the form of a fat cap or some gorgeous ribboning. Bone-in cuts also fare better, as the bones help prevent drying out. New York strip, t-bone, ribeye, and sirloin are all common dry aged cuts of beef. But steak isn’t the only candidate for the dry aging process; even ground beef can be dry aged!
Whether you’re looking for a sophisticated, special-occasion cut of beef like a filet mignon or ground beef for a quick weeknight hamburger, we’ve got you covered! We offer a wide variety of dry aged cuts of beef. One bite and you’ll be a believer!
To learn more about our family-owned beef operation, you can visit us at www.OakBarnBeef.com or stop in and see us at 706 S. Lincoln St. in West Point, Nebraska.