The Story Behind Dry-Aged Beef

Gallagher's Steak House was the first place that we've ever seen serving dry aged beef, but it is actually a very old process. The dry aging process is accomplished by hanging the meat or storing it on a wire rack in a controlled, closely monitored, refrigerated environment. It is critical that the temperature is maintained between 32 and 36 degrees (F). If it gets too warm, then the meat will spoil - too cold and it will freeze, which halts the aging process. The humidity must also be precisely 85% so that water loss is reduced and bacteria is kept in check. Finally, there must be a constant flow of air around the meat all the time.
Dry aging can be very expensive for several reasons: there is some amount of weight loss in the beef during the process, the physical facility required for the aging process, the extra time that it takes to monitor dry aging, etc. Also, dry aging works best on beef that an even distribution of fat - only the highest grades of beef have such marbling, which means that you have to start with expensive cuts of meat to start with. For these reasons, beef is typically wet-aged by vacuum packing it in its own juices.
The restaurant has a sign explaining the beef to passersby:
"Beef Aging Process - This is real beef being dry aged on the bone, for 15 days following three weeks of wet aging. During this period, the sirloins undergo enzymatic changes that intensify flavor, deepen color and tenderize the meat by softening the connective tissue. We then broil our steaks on an open mesquite grill for a flavor only available at... Gallager's"
Dry aged beef is somewhat hard to find these days, and is usually served in only the finest restaurants. Expect the cost of dry-aged beef to be 2 to 3 times the cost of regular beef.

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All text and photos copyright 2001 by Mitchel & Tami Whitington. No portion of any article or other writing in this electronic publication, or photographs or images, may be copied, used or otherwise taken by any person or organization for any purpose or reason whatsoever without the express written permission of Mitchel & Tami Whitington.