This week I tried my first dry aged roast and I must say that I was quite happy with how it turned out.
Meat in the United States is almost always wet aged. It is kept in a plastic bag of some sort and refrigerated at just above freezing for 1 to 4 weeks. 90+ percent of the beef aged in the United States is done in this fashion. This makes the beef more tender as the aging process allows the natural enzymes to break down the connective tissue in the meat. However, there is no flavor concentration because the plastic bagging keeps the moisture in the meat so there is no weight loss.
Now very fine beef for schmancy restaurants and such can be dry aged. This is where large primal cuts are kept in air for approximately the same 1-4 weeks in refrigeration. This promotes the same tenderizing from the enzyme process and enhances it because it promotes the growth of certain molds on the surface of the meat that increase the tenderizing process. These molds do not actually rot the meat and the moldy surface is trimmed off before it is cut into roasts and steaks.
Dry aging is not often done because you will lose up to 20% of the meat from it drying out and being trimmed. This does, however, result in a delicious concentration of flavor in the beef.
Now, I had read about doing this at home for 3 or 4 days instead of long term aging so this week I tried it out. I had a top sirloin roast of about 4 pounds. I put it in the refrigerator set at 34 degrees up on a rack and covered with paper towels. All that I did was change the paper towels twice during the aging process. After this trim away dry parts of the meat and fat. Leave as much of the fat as possible for the flavor and also so you can make a nice gravy, as I did.
This bit of aging made a wonderful roast. Very tender, with a mellow but full beef flavor. Tasting this you realize that the regular roasts have a much more watery flavor at the same degree of doneness. Next I need to try aging the meat for a full week and see how that is. My mouth is watering already.
You can also age the meat very nicely in cheesecloth, but change it a couple of times.
For safety, make sure that your refrigerator is set below 40 degrees for the aging and perhaps use a thermometer to check your actual temperature.