Is a dry-aged ribeye steak getting better if it’s been dry-aged longer?

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Is a dry-aged ribeye steak getting better if it’s been dry-aged longer?

Since I have my own dry age cabinets, I wanted to know how long it takes to get the best dry-aged steak.

I started this experiment more than two months in advance and invested a lot of beef and money. I did this all for science and you.

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I asked my butcher to bring me a big three bone-in ribeye roast every week to hang in my cabinet. The oldest steak has been hanging for nine weeks, and the youngest has been put in the cabinet 5 weeks ago. Which steak will be the best?

Why should you dry-age beef

Dry ageing beef makes it more tender because it breaks down the fibres. And at the same time, it makes it more favourable because the meat loses the tasteless moisture, and the flavours get more condensed. That’s the theory at least. So by this theory, the ribeyes that hang in my cabinet the longest should be the most tender and have the most taste. And the one that’s been in the shortest should be less tasty but juicier.

Why is dry-aged beef more expensive

You only dry-age big pieces of beef. The outside of the meat dries out to the point that it turns black and becomes uneatable. When you trim these parts of your steak, it’s getting a lot smaller than the one you started with. That’s one of the reasons a dry-aged steak is a lot more expensive than a regular steak.

How to prepare a dry-aged ribeye for the grill

I cut off the bones of the roast. Then I trimmed the black and dried-out parts of the roast and cut the rest in thick steaks. This way, I’ve got 25 thick ribeye steaks with five different dry-age qualities.

After trimming, you can see the difference in the steaks. The steak that had dry-aged the longest is clearly much lighter in colour, and then they get darker. Where the youngest steak is the darkest. In my mind, I imagined it the other way around. The other thing I noticed is that the oldest steak I had to trim off a lot more waste than the other ones.

Is a steak that’s been dry-aged for a longer time better

There is, of course, only one way to find out, and that is to cook all these different aged steaks. I used the reversed sear method and first smoked them at a temperature of 120ºC (248F). I inserted all the steaks with their own thermometer so I could track each of them individually. I took this experiment very seriously.

I smoked all the steaks to a core temperature of 52ºC (125F). Then I took them off the grill to cool down to sear them afterwards over direct heat without overshooting the desired temperature. I seared the steak while moving them around to avoid flare-ups as much as possible and grilled all the steaks until they had a good crust and a core temperature of 55ºC (131F).

Now it’s time to season the steaks with fleur de sell salt, slice them and try. We started with the ribeye that’s been dry-aged for five weeks. This steak is definitely juicy and tasty, but I miss a distinctive dry-aged beef flavour. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic steak, but I expected it to be more unusual.

The six-week dry-aged steak has just a little bit more flavour. For the rest, there isn’t much difference with the last steak. The seven-week steak is again beefier if that’s a word. This is starting to get high-quality dry-aged ribeye. With the eight and nine-week dry-aged ribeye, it’s getting better still but with smaller steps.

That’s until you taste the first steak on the board and notice the difference in quality and taste. Just by letting it hang longer, the steak tastes just more and more like a steak. I don’t think you can ever go back now. This is the ribeye you only want to eat from now on.

Would you order a steak that’s been dry-aged for nine weeks

All these steaks were juicy, and I didn’t expect it to be otherwise. They were all excellent quality beef. And the longer they had been dry-aged, the more flavourful they got. But I can tell you that you would pay the jackpot when you order a nine-week dry-aged ribeye at a restaurant.

That’s because this steak had been in the cabinet, taking up space. After that, the chef hat to get rid of a lot of dried out black meat before the real steak is revealed underneath. This costs a lot of money, and someone has to pay for it, and that’s you.

I am fortunate enough to have my own dry age cabinets to experiment with, but it still was a costly experiment. But after this analysis, I want to really try a 100-day dry-aged steak. Just to know if it’s getting better and better.

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