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Grilling Dry-Aged Beef
What is Dry-Aged Beef and Why is it so Difficult to Grill?
Dry-aged beef is a spectacularly rich tasting meat that has been in a temperature and humidity controlled environment for at least 21 days. During the aging process the meat is essentially partially dehydrated and becomes partially rotten as well. This process breaks the protein down in the meat where the meat becomes exceptionally tender and a much richer, deep beef flavor comes forward. It's so rich and intense that it is easily distinguishable from a typical steak.
The experts from Papes in Millbrae CA offered these insights to the best conditions for dry aged beef.
- The temperature should be 31 to 32 degrees
- Fans should circulate the air so the beef doesn't freeze
- Humidity should be 60 to 65% and as high as 70% when meat is first added
- They use wood blocks that retain moisture in their freezer
- Avoid butchers that us ultraviolet bulbs because they kill microbes that help create the dry age beef flavor
I'm writing this Hub, because like other types of beef (wagyu comes to mind), it cooks entirely different than what most people are accustomed to when it comes to grilling steaks. The water loss of dry-aging beef changes the beef so that it cooks much quicker than normal steaks. For example, to grill a perfectly medium-rare corn fed filet mignon it takes 20% longer than dry-aged beef.
Beef Dry Aging
After the Aging Process
A dry-aged piece of beef will become a dark grey color as it ages. But, once the aging process is complete, the butcher trims off the dark pieces and a well marbled, deep red steak emerges!
Grilling the Steaks
To start with, the grill needs to be hot. Some people will take their grills up to 700 degrees to get an extremely hot sear on the steaks. However, I'm grilling on a Komodo Kamado that has much larger grill grates than a typical charcoal bbq (3/8 inch vs 1/4 inch). The wider grill marks get more coverage on the steak and I find it sears very well at 500 degrees.
Season the beef with salt and pepper to taste. Dry-aged beef is so rich and tender, it needs just very basic seasoning.
Set the Timer
Once the grill is at 500 degrees, I put a little oil on the grill (Pam) and place the steaks over the hot part of the charcoal.
Set the timer for 50 seconds for each 1/2 inch in thickness for the steaks. A typical dry-aged rib eye is 1.5 inches thick. That means setting the timer for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Each side is cooked twice for a total grilling time of 10 minutes.
Let the Steak Rest
Once the steak is pulled from the grill, let the steak rest five to seven minutes. It's best to place it on a plate to catch some of the juices that will run out as the meat sets.
The blood makes an incredible dipping sauce!
Pair Dry-Aged Beef with Zinfadel
A big spicy red wine pairs exceptionally well with the deep beef flavor.