Dry aging is a process that has been around since the middle ages and up until refrigeration was produced in the 1940s, it was the only way to preserve meat longer than a few days. Today, dry aging is used because of its unique ability to naturally change the flavours of your meat and increasing the tenderness which cannot be replicated through any other preservation method. We think that because of the time and effort and risk associated with dry aging, you need to make sure you cook it in the right way. In this article we are going to be discussing grilling dry aged steak vs smoking dry aged steak.
Dry aging is a delicate process that does come with risks, this is because the temperature and humidity of your meat aging fridge needs to be just right to avoid spoilage. This process also causes weight loss as the flavor of the meat becomes more concentrated, however it is worth it because of the truly naturally flavorful beef it creates.
Grilling dry aged steak
When grilling dry aged steak, the steaks cook twice as fast because of the reduced moisture in the muscle. Less moisture doesn't mean a dry piece of steak however it is important to remember to properly rest the means and use a slow cooking method. The best way to get the steak to the right temperature is by using a thermometer rather than the finger test method.
Finger test method when grilling dry aged steak
With the finger test method, simply press the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb. The fleshy area below the thumb should give quite a bit. This is what meat cooked to rare feels like. Open up your palm again and compare raw to rare.
The right temperature of grilling dry aged steak
A rare steak is cooked to 125 degree reading on the thermometer. It’s best to cook a dry aged steak to this temperature, even if undercooked, allow it to rest at minimum ten minutes, then use the thermometer again to check the temperature after resting for ten minutes. If it is still at the 125 degrees mark, allow it to cook three minutes longer on each side and rest again for ten minutes.
Grilling dry aged steak- reverse sear method
Reverse sear method works best when grilling dry aged steak. This involves half burners on at high temperature and half off completely. By setting up the grill like this allows for it to be used like an oven. We always recommend sprinkling about a tablespoon of salt per steak to penetrate the muscle then bring salted steaks to room temperature just prior to grilling. Freshly grated black pepper is best to add just prior to grilling the steaks as this flavor doesn’t penetrate the steaks as well as the salt. It’s best not to use a grill fork to turn steaks and a pair of tongs allows for turning the steaks without puncturing them. The more the steak is penetrated the more moisture is lost.
Marinating dry age steaks prior to smoking or grilling is not necessary and the salt and pepper method above is recommended. Marinating steaks is only required when using tougher cuts of steak, like a flank steak where the salt and spices in marinade create the flavor profile.
Smoking dry aged steak
When adding smoke on top of the dry age flavor profile, the more smoke that is added the more it decreases the dry age taste. This is considered a confluence of art and science as it’s not typical to alter either the dry age or smoked flavor of the steaks. But, if curiosity prevails, it’s best to work with a strip loin not a ribeye, because the fat and marbling of the cut will attract more smoke and may overpower the flavors.
A brisket or shoulder can be dry aged up to about 35 days, remove the exterior pellicule then smoke low and slow where the key is to not over do either process. To smoke one porterhouse steak after a 35-day dry age process from a sub-primal, best results are after 30 minutes at 130-150 degrees depending on the smoker. It’s still necessary to grill after smoking this cut so that it’s cooked through and to not have two competing flavors.