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jedovaty

long dry aged ribeyes are tough?

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Posted (edited)

Hi there:

I am looking for opinions: should long-term dry aged rib eye have a tender/melting texture, or should it be a bit chewy/tough? 

Over the last couple years, I have asked my local beef butcher to dry-age a full rib eye for me - first was 45 days, next was ~52, and final was ~60.  I have the butcher do it because I simply don't have room for a second fridge.

The first two were prime grade (45 and ~52), the third (~60) was choice grade.  These are corn-finished cows.

Soon as I bring the trimmed pieces home (roughly 11 pounds each), I slice them up into roughly 1.5 inch thickness, vac seal, then freeze.  I will generally sous-vide at 128-130F for a couple hours, then sear on high heat (sometimes with butter, sometimes without).  Super tasty, funky-licious, but always a bit tough, and the choice comes out rather dry.  I've also tried a few reverse sear with my grill.

Everything I've read in the past, suggests they should be tender, probably can almost be cut with a spoon.

Please don't take the above as a complaint, I'm just wondering whether my results are normal :)


Edited by jedovaty added smiley face (log)

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what was the weight loss % wise?

 

setting all the kitchen lore stories aside for the moment, dry aging beef takes a combination of the right temperature and the right humidity.

unless the butcher has a set-up that controls both temp&humidity, odds are it simply dried out too much.

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My inclination would be to SV for longer; whether that is the right thing to do, I have no clue. But I eat grass-finished, pasture-raised beef, which, because it's been wandering about the hillside, tends toward being more toothsome than grain-finished, and I SV longer than most folks recommend -- up to four hours, with no mealy/mushy texture. 

 

Try a three-hour cook and see what that does.

 

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If the rib-eyes have the deckle, that might explain the less-than tender chew.  

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I don't know the humidity or temp of the butcher's aging fridge, I will ask them, but I'm pretty sure they are using correct metrics - it's Beef Palace in HB.  The meat cuts are without bone, and about 17-18 lbs at start, and roughly 10-11lbs when I pick them up.

Interesting, I'll try a longer time in the water bath this weekend.

I haven't heard the term "deckle" before, and looked it up though still not clear what section that is when looking at these steaks.  Mine have both the cap and eye.  Some of the pieces have gristle between the two (along the fat eye - my terminology isn't exact, hope you understand).  The gristly part is, of course, very chewy, but the rest of the meat tends to be on the tougher side.

Appreciate the responses, thank you all.

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note that dry aging beef is a topic much like how to hard boil and egg - a lot of people have very fixed opinions, which are all not the same.  I've never found "an authority" that more than one person will accept as an authority - the USDA doesn't publish any how-to guidelines.  places famous for dry aged beef that do reveal their 'secrets' don't do it 'the same' - so this topic frequently degenerates into a free for all.


I like to age our stuff so I've researched it a bit.  here's some stuff I've found you may or may not choose to believe or use:


- one point to dry aging is tenderness; tough/chewy indicates to me something was not done "right"
- taste testing by generally accepted 'food people' indicates dry aging past 30 days becomes a diminishing return; the flavor/taste gets funkier, to the point some don't like it 'that old'
- boneless.  usually not recommended; the meat dries too fast.
- deckle:  prime rib affectionados like this left on
- fat cap:  generous fat cap left on during; trimmed after
- most places famous for dry aging agree on temperatures with a degree or two
- places famous for dry aging do not all agree on what relative humidity should be maintained or whether it should be constant or start high/low and move to low/high.  the cited numbers range from 50%-95%
- the home fridge does not control humidity; a frost free refrigerator can be far to low in relative humidity
- quite a few known / self-appointed experts limit home refrigerator dry aging to "several days"

 

====================
in your case,
17 to 10 lbs or 18 to 11 lbs  = almost 40% loss - that's very high.

30% at 60 days is an oft cited number.
my suspicion is that it dried too fast - more jerky than dry aged - and left 45-52-60 days was just too much.
if it was deboned then dried, that would aggravate the situation even more as the fat cap and bone structure slows down the drying process.

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I wonder if the fat content of the cut was too low to begin with.  The term "choice" is a pretty broad range when it comes to marbling.  I've seen some cuts labeled choice that look almost like prime, and others that seem to have no marbling at all.  The marbling is important because more highly marbled meat will be much more tender to start with than more lean meat.  Lean meat is mostly water, so when dry aged for a long time, becomes more like jerky.  Meat with a lot of fat doesn't lose as much weight because the fat doesn't go anywhere.  I don't think I'd consider dry aging anything that isn't prime or almost-like-prime meat.

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Ive spoken to several butchers in main-stream supermarket " service " meat counters.

 

they beef comes in boxes in large cryovac'd bags , which they then trim for resale.

 

sometimes the ' lesser ' primal cuts are labeled prime , as they have come from a side of beef

 

that was indeed prime.   these are trimmed as usual for the store and added to the meat counter

 

either ' service ' or packaged .  that's why some times in the ' choice ' case you can see cuts that have

 

much more marbling than their neighbors.   to sell as ' prime' in these stores it has to be

 

more or less  a t-bone or a porterhouse.   no one who shoppes at these store is going to buy a

 

prime blade roast at a prime price.

 

 

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Okay, thanks, then you all have addressed my question: dry aged steak should be tender.  

I did the longer timeline mostly out of curiosity, and I did like it quite a bit.

The butcher I go to may offer bone-in ribeye, but I'm not sure.  They have porterhouse steaks, but I guess when I asked for ribeye, they must debone it since in each case that's how I'd received it.  I'm sure if I ask, they could order it if they don't have it.

I researched the dry-aging process a couple years ago; however, backed down due to limited space.  What I recall most purchase the cuts at the warehouses like costco -- but those all come boneless and cryovacced as rotuts stated. 

Next step therefore is to cave in and get a second fridge/freezer dedicated to aging my own, and just find a way to make room for it.  I'm trying to think of other uses for the fridge, since it's just me and one of these ribeyes lasts a year.

Just for laughs, attached pictures show the prime cut post trimming.  I cut the large fat tip off and rendered it down thinking I could use it like duck fat - but no, it's way too strong for my tastes not sure what else to do with it.  Did not take photos of the choice, however, at least half of it had fairly decent marbling. 

prime sliced.jpg

prime whole.jpg

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Posted (edited)

You could use the fridge for curing meats. And for stashing fermented foods. Both are favorites of mine, and both cause space issues.

 


Edited by kayb (log)

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I'll echo that the dry-aged steaks should be tender. 

 

I used to get excellent dry-aged rib-eyes from my old butcher, who did some of his own dry aging. He did it on a shelf of his regular walk-in fridge, with a jerry rigged drip dray and fan and no reliable humidity control. The results were always excellent, but not predictable. I never had issues with tenderness, but there was no guarantee that steaks aged 8 weeks would have more dry-aged flavor than ones aged 5 weeks ... that kind of thing. There was little correlation between aging time and aged qualities. I know this isn't your issue specifically, but I bring it up because it's possible that your butcher's aging setup isn't ideal, and so it is isn't giving the predicted results. 

 

FWIW, those steaks in your picture look very nicely marbled, but don't have the color i'm used to seeing in dry aged meat. I expect to see more of a ruby color to the meat, and slightly yellowed fat. Granted, color is tricky on the web and without controlled lighting.

 

Nice Tadatsuna Gyuto! 

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On 2018-05-14 at 6:55 PM, kayb said:

My inclination would be to SV for longer; whether that is the right thing to do, I have no clue. But I eat grass-finished, pasture-raised beef, which, because it's been wandering about the hillside, tends toward being more toothsome than grain-finished, and I SV longer than most folks recommend -- up to four hours, with no mealy/mushy texture. 

 

Try a three-hour cook and see what that does.

 

We also get grass fed free range beef.  It is a bit more toothsome but I don't mind because the flavour is outstanding.  I SV the flank steak at 131F for 24 hours and it is nice and tender medium-to-the-rare-side.

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if you can get it bone in, be sure to ask the definition.  many butchers cut the meat free of the bone, then tie it back together.  I find that does not produce as good a result.

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I've never had to sous-vide ribeye longer than to cook to core temperature. It's always been tender enough that going longer would risk both drying it out and creating mushy textures. Flank steak times aren't a good guideline for rib. 

 

 

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Got it, I could just use the fridge as a spare (I don't really want to get into charcuterie or cheeses now).  Maybe I'll get a fridge/freezer, since I really would like more freezer space.  And a chamber vac sealer, and few other toys :D

Paul: I know what you are talking about, even with internet and questionable photo calibrations, you are correct, these don't have that ruby-red color (and neither did the other two) - not sure why.  The fat pieces I trimmed were an off-white, almost yellow, especially the 60-day choice.  Good eye on the knife!  Sadly, I'm terrible at sharpening (have been trying to get it right almost 10 years now), and I cannot tell if it is double or single bevel.  But I still do everything with it!

I am going to try a longer water bath anyway, just to see what happens, I've never actually gone past 2 hours with a ribeye before.

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If you PM me I can point you to some tips for that knife. It's pretty easy to put straight razor-like edge on. In my experience it doesn't hold an edge very long, so it needs to be touched up a lot. But it's so thin it can outperform most other things even when it's kind of dull. 

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if you're curious, there are (many) "salt sampler sets" available - just read carefully as some are "infused salts" and some are the natural salts from variously places/locales/mountains/etc.

 

typically small qtys - 1-2 ounces - of each; small sets with 2-3 varieties to many....

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I ran one of the choice steaks through a 4 hour bath at 128F, then seared on my grill.  It helped the texture a little, but that could've been placebo.  Wasn't mushy or like sawdust, which has happened sometimes when done too long.  I am curious to try a side-by-side test, will do it next month.

Seeing that I've now had three full rib eyes with this same "tough" texture, I've drawn the conclusion the butcher's environment causes the meat to dry out, and this is supported by the loss in mass to ~40%+.  Thanks all for the help :)

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Have you tried cooking it not in a bag? I'm not much of a fan of tender cuts of beef cooked SV. It can be convenient and easy, but I find it is seldom more delicious than cooking conventionally. SV steaks have a tendency to get a grainy. coarse texture that I don't really enjoy. 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/3/2018 at 10:42 PM, btbyrd said:

Have you tried cooking it not in a bag? I'm not much of a fan of tender cuts of beef cooked SV. It can be convenient and easy, but I find it is seldom more delicious than cooking conventionally. SV steaks have a tendency to get a grainy. coarse texture that I don't really enjoy. 

 

I haven't experienced this, but suspect it has to do with the thickness of the cut (and the corresponding cooking time). For SV I always get steaks cut to 1-1/2 inches. Any thicker and cook time is too long. Thinner and it's hard to sear them without cooking through (unless you have monstrous BTUs). For prime, dry aged steaks, the best I've had have been cooked s.v.  For more modest steaks, I prefer methods that let you put on a more serious sear / char. This meat can use help from the added seasoning of smoke and fire.


Edited by paulraphael (log)

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Dry aging you are basicly removing moisture out of the muscle. I would think the longer you dry age, the more "beef jerky" the meat will be. 

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On 7/1/2018 at 1:34 PM, FeChef said:

Dry aging you are basicly removing moisture out of the muscle. I would think the longer you dry age, the more "beef jerky" the meat will be. 

 

That's never been my experience. The reduced moisture intensifies flavor, but at the same time enzymes are breaking down the connective tissue. 

Dry aging does desiccate the outer layer of meat, and longer dry age times give a thicker layer of desiccated meat that has to be trimmed off. But the meat that remains should be more tender and subjectively juicy than non-aged meat.

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