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Dry-Aging: Can I Really Dry Age Wagyu Beef At Home?

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As mentioned in the previous article, it is possible to take your Wagyu beef to the next level. Yes, this would be akin to upgrading your Mercedes to a Bentley (something I have no experience with, but this seems like a fitting analogy given that we are talking about Wagyu).

Surprisingly, dry-aging at home is incredibly simple and versatile: you can dry-age ribeye roasts, chateaubriand, chucks, or even briskets. Of course, if it is your first time dry aging meat at home (more specifically, your garage), I would recommend experimenting on a cheaper cut of meat (a select roast or loin, even if not choice or prime USDA) than an expensive piece of Wagyu beef.

Regardless of what cut of meat you decide to dry-age, it is important to remember that it needs to be roast size—not a single steak. If your wife happens to question the size and the cost of your purchase (I am by no means speaking from personal experience here), you can explain that the dry-aging process will shrink the meat and form a crust that will have to be carved prior to the sear. In other words, there will be far less meat at the end of the dry-aging process than at the beginning.

So, if you are still game to try your hand at a cut of meat that runs around $100 in a high-end restaurant—and to put cousin Bob’s barbequing skills to shame—read on.

Step 1: Equipment and Gear

In order to dry age your Wagyu beef at home, you will need a fridge, a couple of fans, a thermometer, and a portable air sanitizer. Yes, it might seem like you need to spend a chunk of change at this stage, but you have to keep things in perspective. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a 23-inch dry aging fridge that runs from $1, 699-$6,200, you are making one yourself for $300 or less.

1 – THE FRIDGE:

As far as this goes, any fridge will do as long as it can fit your cut of wagyu and all your equipment. It is essential that the fridge you choose is able to hold temperatures between 35-37°F. Professionals also monitor the humidity level, as it can play a factor in the dry aging process. That beings said, the humidity in a standard fridge averages about 45-50%, making it safe to dry age in a standard commercial fridge.

Two very basic things need to be noted here. First, do not let your wife, your kids, or your mother-in-law place anything else in the fridge: trust me, they will blame you for the funky smell absorbed by whatever food they put in there. In other words, the entire family needs to know that that new fridge next to mom’s elliptical is dedicated exclusively to the dry aging process. Secondly, do not constantly open and close the door as this will cause the temperature to drop, which, in turn, will interfere with the dry-aging process. This is why I highly recommend purchasing a fridge with a window door that would allow you to monitor the process without opening it.

Dry Aging Wagyu Home - Grilling With The Homebody

2 – A PORTABLE AIR SANITIZER (optional):

Most modern fridges come with an air sanitizer, and these will do just fine. That being said, if you should need an air sanitizer, I recommend using the Guardian Technologies Pluggable Air Purifier & Sanitizer or an equivalent. Air filter’s role is to neutralize odors and preserve your meat by ensuring that only fresh, sanitized air is passed around your fridge and over your food.

3 – FANS:

Fans play an essential role in the dry aging process. They help rotate the air around the fridge, which works in tandem with the air sanitizer, to keep the air fresh and not stale. I placed my fans in the following way: one in the center bottom of the fridge facing up and two at the top in each corner of the fridge facing the meat.

Dry Aging Beef At Home Fridge - Grilling With The Homebody

4 – SALT:

Any type of salt like kosher or Himalayan salt will do. In addition to its role as a natural anti-microbial because of its chemical components, salt helps pull more of the moisture from the meat, giving the flavor an extra boost. On this note, make sure to place the salt in a stainless steel sheet pan at the bottom of the fridge because the moisture that is absorbed by the salt will turn into water and will need to be collected.

Dry Aging Beef At Home Fridge Fan - Grilling With The Homebody

5 – WATER:

Place a small container of water at the bottom of the refrigerator (in the sheet pan is fine) to generate a moderate level of humidity. This will ensure that the meat does not dry too quickly.

Dry Aging Beef At Home Fridge Humidity- Grilling With The Homebody

6 – A WIRELESS HYGROMETER THERMOMETER:

Place the thermometer in the fridge to get readings of what the temperatures are and to keep track of humidity. The Wi-Fi unit is particularly useful because you can set alerts that will notify you when the temperatures are too high or too low.

Step 2: The Meat

I highly recommend using Snake River Farms American Wagyu Prime Rib Roast Black or Gold Grade, the ultimate boneless roast prime rib with the highest level of marbling available from the American Wagyu program. Not surprisingly, this already intensely flavorful cut of meat is made even more so by dry aging and, as a result, makes for a spectacular centerpiece during those special occasion and holiday meals.

Instructions:

• Prepare a sanitary space on your counter to prep your roast;

• Remove the roast from its packaging. Do NOT trim the fat on the surface;

• Place in a refrigerator with an internal temperature of 34-38 degrees F. When you place the meat in the fridge, be sure that it sits on a food-grade coated rack or a stainless steel food-grade rack so that air is able to dry out all sides of the meat. The idea is to have the entire roast be able to breathe and the air to circulate around it.

Step 3: The Dry Aging Process

Award-winning cookbook author and television host Steven Raichlen recommends to wait 2-4 weeks if you’re only looking for added tenderness, 4-6 weeks for that famous dry-aged taste that makes the whole process worth it, and 6-8 (or more) weeks if you’re looking to develop some seriously bold aromas and flavors. If this is your first time, I recommend dry aging your roast for up to 30-40 day to see if you like it. The longest I’ve aged a roast was about 60 days (my wife and I preferred the 45-day dry-aged cut because it had a creamy, buttery flavor that was not too concentrated).

Note: While it is okay to check on your beef once in a while, remember that every time you open your fridge’s door you affect the moisture levels and invite unwanted odors in.

Once your roast has dry-aged the desired amount of days, remove it from the fridge.

Dry Aging Beef At Home Wagyu Ribeye - Grilling With The Homebody

Step 4: The Finish

Using a very sharp boning knife or kitchen shears, cut away the pellicle (the crust) from the roast. Slice your roast into individual steaks with the boning knife.

Dry Aging Beef At Home Ribeye - Grilling With The Homebody
Dry Aging Beef At Home Ribeye - Grilling With The Homebody
Dry Aging Beef At Home Ribeye Trimmed - Grilling With The Homebody

Now you are ready to cook and enjoy—and watch anyone who somehow questioned your purchase of the mini fridge, the three fans, and a thermometer eat their words, so to speak.

Resources:

https://www.crowdcow.com/how-to/dry-age-wagyu-picanha
https://www.seriouseats.com/the-food-lab-dry-age-beef-at-home

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