Beef

I don’t know what to call this small dish. Is it a Sushi Roll or is it a Fresh Spring Roll?

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It contains seasoned sushi rice and tuna as well as lettuce and rocket leaves and blanched crunchy asparagus which is all wrapped up in a sheet of damp rice paper.

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A sweet sauce tangy sauce is drizzled over the top.

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Because I couldn’t decide on the name of the dish, they were just served up as “Chef Specials” for a few evenings. The first night we served them as pictured above, the following evening we replaced the tuna with some spicy salmon tartare and on the third and final night they were served with king prawn tempura as the main filling.

These are rolled to order. Once all the elements have be prepared it only takes a matter of minutes from the time they are ordered until the time they are served on the table.

This next dish took almost a month to prepare.

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This is a slab of beef.

Its dark dry exterior is an intentional outcome from dry aging the cut.

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I agree that it doesn’t look too pleasing at the moment, but trust me “not all is as it appears to be“..

Underneath the dark, crusty facade lies a truly tender interior.

Dry aged beef is hard to come by nowadays unless you venture to a steakhouse that specialises in aged cuts, and around here in the countryside of Spain, there are none!

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I am an self proclaimed aficionado of steaks and am partial to a juicy bloody fillet, however with dry aged beef, there is no “juicy” as such. The texture is still very tender yet dense and concentrated at the same time, and above all, yummy!

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To cut a long story short, most beef you buy has undergone some form of maturing. There a basically two methods for this.

1. Dry aging.

2. Wet aging.

The latter is what is mostly available. The cuts of meat are sealed in vacuumed pouches which retain the moisture. This is the preferred method for most restaurants as it only takes a few days and there is no weight loss.

Dry aging by hanging or storing in a temperature controlled environment takes longer, and weight loss is desirable. The result is tastier cut due to the evaporation of moisture which results in a more “meatier” flavour. Tenderness is achieved thanks to the beef´s natural enzymes which further break down the connective tissue, hence the best pieces for dry aging are marbled cuts with a generous coating of fat, which also protects the meat.

Because all of this takes a long time, dry aged beef is not commercially viable for butcher shops, supermarkets or small restaurants. In my case it took 28 days.

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Firstly there is a lot of moisture loss, usually between 20 and 30% depending on how long the meat is aged. Secondly the outer crust needs to be removed.

For a reasonable portion I cut off a piece which weighed in at 707g.

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Yikes! I hear you think! 700g steak! This aint the Flintstones!

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As I said it needs to be trimmed.

The crust actually helps in the aging process. It can become moldy and fungal, which is actually a good sign.

However it definately needs to be trimmed off as well as the majority of the fat.

The surface of the steak is not moist, unlike a cut that is taken from wet aging.

Its not even damp, its just, just meat!.

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The scales now read 406g, thats 301g lost in trimmings!!

Now you can understand why dry aged beef costs so much in specialist steak restaurants and grills. But let me say, the taste is well worth the price.

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Here you can see the comparison between the steaks after one has been trimmed.

The original “slab of meat” pictured was aged in one of my fridges for almost a month.

The temperature was set at 4ºC.

Many people say that the temperature and humidity need to be carefully controlled, which in  sense is correct, but I´m not a professional dry aged beef provider and do not have a fancy and expensive storage device. All I had was a very clean space that was infrequantly opened. I´m not giving anyone a recipe or method to dry age their own beef, I´m just showing you mine! :biggrin:

 

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These are all the trimmings from the three cuts. More than a kilo!!

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All that is needed now is a hot oiled pan and a good searing before the cut is popped in to the oven for 4 minutes.

4 minutes? Yep thats right. 4.

Cursed be the person who doesnt enjoy this meat cooked rare or bleu!!

Imagine dry aging a lovely marbled piece of meat for 28 days only to have someone ask for it “well done please”. WTF!

There is also no need for fancy sauces, be it black peppercorn sauce or the Laotian favourite of chopped chilies in fish sauce.

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All that is needed is a sprinkling of salt, after the meat has been cooked.

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And there we have it. A bloody yet un-juicy steak.

The flavour is beefy (real beef) with a hint of nuttiness and surprisingly a finish that has whisper of Stilton cheese flavour. I have to thank Chef Heston Blumenthal for coming up with description as I couldnt put any words for that “whisper finish”.

Such a serious piece of meat needs to be eaten slow. Savour every bite. Its not everyday you get to eat something that took 28 days to get ready.

My next post will be in July when I return from cooking at a charity dinner in London. It would be great if any of you can make it, if not you can also help by donating. Any amount helps. All proceeds go to help build schools for children back home in Laos, and help them build a bright future.

At this moment there are a few tickets available. You can find out more information by clicking below, at the bottom of the page you´ll find the donation button.

Hope to see you there!

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4 thoughts on “Beef

  1. One of the best description of aged beef with photos  I have seen. We do it at my restaurant but we do the wet aging, with a cut we call here Ojo de Bife. In wet aging you have to change the bags every ten days. Hope we can share experiences very soon. Congratulations

  2. I found this post very interesting as I’ve been aging venison every fall. I leave the entire carcass skinned but otherwise exposed to the air and hanging at barn temperature, well above freezing but cool. 

    We get lots of compliments on the end result but do have some problems. The biggest problem is all the meat loss due to the outside drying. Some say leave the skin on but I’m worried about funny flavors due to various glands, also the skin itself is often fairly strong smelling mid rut. We only age a week of ten days, temperatures aren’t that cold.

    We do like the tenderness and lack of gaminess. Agree about rare.

    I need to do some looking around on the net. 

    Your blog as always is fascinating. 

  3. Hi Somsai, always great to hear from you.

    I would love to age Venison. Now that the hunting season is close, I am sure to get a few cuts delivered to the restaurant, so I am eager to start experimenting with that.

    Aged meat taste so…. “meaty”.

    Like the saying says….”good things come to those who wait….”

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