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What exactly is dry-aged beef, and does the process matter?

submitted by Maria Teresa Grispino-Nappi, Altomonte’s Italian Market, www.altomontes.com

During the dry aging process moisture is pulled out of large cuts of beef.

In our case, hanging beef, that is beef the way it used to be before mass production. It doesn’t come in a neat and convenient vacuum sealed box.

Nope, it comes in as a giant side of beef from a local farm. Think Rocky training in an icebox, pounding away at raw meat. Those are sides of hanging beef.

Hanging beef is minimally processed, important to the quality of the meat and is the first step in good butchery.

As moisture evaporates from the meat, the more intense the flavor profile becomes. It also means the steak will cook beautifully without that excess water.

The longer it ages the more tender it gets. Aging can range anywhere from several weeks to several months (based on customer request) before being trimmed and cut into steaks.

The process not only helps the steak develop flavor, but also makes it far more tender than it would be when completely fresh.

The biggest reason for buying meat from a butcher compared to a big retailer or supermarket, is that the meat is unlikely to be hung properly (if at all).

A side of beef will lose 15-20% through water evaporation during the aging process.

A supermarket doesn’t hang meat because it leads to shrinkage and loss and frankly it’s just easier to sell meat out of a pre-cut sealed box.

That doesn’t cut it at Altomonte’s because we were founded by a master butcher over 50 years ago, who instilled the importance of quality meat and butchery.

Once you eat a dry-aged steak, there’s no competition. It’s richer, beefier, more tender, buttery and puts all other steaks to shame. 

You want the best steak of your life? Forget the steak house, honestly I’ve never encountered this quality of meat in any of them, even the “best ones”. Instead do yourself a favor, grab a dry aged bone-in, prime grade rib-eye or Tomahawk (it looks like something Fred Flintstone would eat!).

Cook it over a real wood fire to medium-rare, a little kosher salt and done.

It simply does not get any better unless you pair it with a red wine and you’re in luck because Altomonte’s also boasts the finest Italian portfolio of wines in Pennsylvania, ask sommelier Angelo for a perfect pairing and Buon Appetito! 

Altomonte’s Italian Market has locations in Warminster and Doylestown.

PHOTO CAP: Andrew Zimmern recently visited Altomonte’s Dry Aging room in Doylestown. Pictured from left, Michael Grispino, Andrew ZImmern, Franca Grispino and Vincent Grispino.

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