So, a while back a great experiment was attempted in our house. The Great Dry Aging Experiment. As we reported then this was a great success. The part I left out of that though was that it was only the start of what I really wanted to do.
You see, I had my heart set on cooking a great big standing rib roast, but there was no way I was going to do my first dry aging attempt on such an expensive piece of meat. So after that point I asked my sweetheart to keep her eyes open for sales on the cut of meat that I wanted.
In February comes the pseudo-holiday of Valentine’s Day. The way Valentine’s Day is treated in our house deserves a whole post of its own – but it’s not really food related so I’ll skip that bit here and you’ll just have to bug us if you don’t know the story already. But the other side effect of Valentine’s Day is that expensive roasts like a standing rib go on sale.
A standing rib roast is basically a big old piece of prime rib with the rib bones still attached. You can have the butcher remove the bones for a cheaper price per pound – but you will lose the flavoring of cooking with them and the ability to keep them for later. We got a four rib roast for about $45.
An easy way to measure how much to buy, is to plan on each rib feeding two adults. Now that we had the rib it was time to prepare the dry aging. This was done just like before, the meat was unwrapped, rinsed, gently dried and then stored on a rack on a cookie sheet in the outside fridge covered with paper towels. I changed the towels once each day and just let it sit for four days.
Dry aging works like this. When meat is fresh it’s very tender but not too long after its butchered the muscle fibers begin to contract causing the beef to become tougher. Fortunately, there are enzymes in the meat that can be stimulated to increase the tenderness and dry aging is a good way to do that. In addition the dry aging, in my opinion, strengthens the essential taste of the meat making for a better flavor.
If you dry age for a long time you will probably have to trim off the outer layers that may have dried to much, or even started to grow a slight mold. This is a normal process of dry aging and not harmful to the meat, just not good to eat. But since we generally only give it four days or so we cook with the whole roast.
The best way to cook after dry aging is very slowly. I wanted to cook it at 200 degrees until it reached about 120 degrees in the center of the meat, let it rest on the counter until the internal temperature went up to about 130 degrees and then blast it for 15 minutes at 500 degrees to form a nice outer crust.
Fully cooked roast before carving
However, I _WAY_ under estimated the amount of time it would take to cook at the low temperatures. After two hours in the oven I realized that I was never going to make dinner time at this speed so I cranked the oven up to 350 to finish the main cooking. Once I got the temperatures I wanted I rested the meat and did the crust like I wanted to.
Next time I’d start cooking way earlier since the slow cooking will also improve the tenderness of the final product, but I don’t think any of the people at that dinner would complain about the final product. The roast was delicious and the pictures I’ve left around should prove that to you.
Ribs removed and full roast revealed.
Serving was easy, cut the ribs off, then slice the roast and serve. The ribs can be for later. As in, for me, for later. And they were. I have to say the ribs were delicious all by themselves the next day for lunch.
Sliced and on the serving plate. Delicious!
All in all, this is the final proof for me of the dry aging experiment. Anytime I have a good piece of beef and the time to do it I’m going to dry age it to improve the flavor and tenderness of the finished dish.