Supermarket beef is stored moist -- or wet-aged -- until it is butchered and sold to customers. However, wet-aging doesn't improve tenderness and flavor. Dry-aging, on the other hand, refers to hanging uncovered beef in a cooler to promote beneficial microbial growth, which tenderizes the meat and gives it a rich, concentrated flavor through enzyme action. You can dry-age filet mignon at home, but you have to age the whole tenderloin, not just a steak or two.
Things You'll Need
- Refrigerator thermometer
- USDA Prime or USDA Choice beef tenderloin
- Paper towels
- Wire rack
- Baking sheet
- Kitchen knife
Attach a refrigerator thermometer to the inside of your fridge a few days before you want to start dry-aging the tenderloin. Adjust the refrigerator's thermostat to bring the temperature to between 36 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It might take as long as 24 hours for your refrigerator to reach the recommended temperature range.
Rinse the tenderloin under cool running water and blot the excess water with paper towels. Place the tenderloin on a wire rack set atop a baking sheet and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until dry to the touch.
Wrap the tenderloin loosely in two or three layers of cheesecloth and place it back on the wire rack. Place the baking sheet with tenderloin on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
Age the tenderloin in the refrigerator for three to seven days. Unwrap the tenderloin after the first 24 hours of aging and rewrap it with the same piece of cheesecloth to keep it from sticking to the meat.
Remove the tenderloin after three to seven days and shave off the dried crust on the outside using a sharp, non-serrated kitchen knife. Take off just enough to reach red tissue, usually no more than 1/4 inch after seven days of dry-aging.
Tips & Warnings
- Roast dry-aged tenderloin whole for best results.
- Don't dry-age tenderloin longer than seven days. Tenderloins feature very little fat, so you're not left with much edible meat after trimming.
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