In our restaurant we feature NY Strip Steaks that are dry aged. Most people don’t understand what that means so I am going to explain it! The reason why restaurants and butcher shops dry age beef is to improve the flavor of the meat. The first thing to know is that only higher grades of meat can go through the dry age process because the fat content has to be evenly distributed which is something that you do not see on lower grades of meat. After the animal leaves the slaughter house, the beef is hung to dry for several weeks in a cooler also know as a “hot box” and is stored at almost freezing temperatures. Isn’t is ironic that being hung at almost freezing is called a hot box? Through the dry age process two things really happen: (1) moisture evaporates from the muscle and makes a more concentrated beef flavor and (2) the enzymes in the meat breaks down the connective tissue and leads to a more tender piece of meat. Through this process the meat looses about one-third of its original weight.
Also during the process certain molds form on the surface of the meat that add to the flavor. But don’t worry, that is always trimmed off during the prep process! We began our dry age program three years ago in Harrigan’s. I am very proud that our restaurant offers dry age beef. Next time you visit Harrigan’s, be sure to order a dry aged NY Strip now that you know what it is all about!
Chef Chris Snee