Dry-aging is difficult and expensive – which is why many restaurants do not do it – but boy, does it make a phenomenal steak. The time and energy (and patience) put into the process truly results in a quality steak. At RARE, we aren’t afraid of a little work, which is why we not only dry-age our steaks, but we also hand-make our pasta and cheeses, hand-toss our pizzas, and even have an herb garden in our windows.
We knew we wanted this dry-aging feature in our restaurant, and as the owners set our researching dry-aging rooms, they determined the best process for RARE would be to create a custom room to have as a feature in the restaurant.
At RARE Italian, we are honored to have our very own dry-aging cooler right in our dining room. This allows us to offer the best steaks in Northern Colorado, and we were happy for the opportunity to share the process with you at our recent Dry-aging Demo & Discussion.
For those of you who were unable to join us, we wanted to share some info.
A Bit of History
The owners of RARE Italian – the same owners of Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant – knew they wanted two major things for their new concept: hand-made pasta and amazing steaks. The inspiration for the steaks came from two places – the owners traveling through central Italy, experiencing the rustic farm-to-table approach, as well as traveling to Chicago and experiencing the classic Italian restaurants of the windy city.
Once the owners knew what they wanted, they began the quest for the perfect steak: dry-aging.
What is Dry-aging?
Dry-aging is an environmentally controlled process that reduces moisture content, therefore concentrating the flavor in meat. Only higher grades of meat can be dry-aged as the process requires meat with a large, evenly distributed fat content. The key effect of dry-aging is the concentration and saturation of the natural flavor, as well as the tenderization of the meat texture. The RARE dry-aging cooler is at a controlled temperature of 34-37°F – just above freezing – and remains at 75-80% humidity.
What does dry-aging do to meat products?
The dry-aging process changes beef by two means:
- Moisture is evaporated from the muscle, and this extreme drying creates a greater concentration of beef flavor and taste.
- The beef’s natural enzymes break down the connective tissue in the muscle, which leads to more tender beef.
Since the meat is “drying,” it is therefore losing water (and weight). As the meat shrinks, the fat & bones stay the same.
How does dry-aging change flavor?
By controlling the decomposition of the meat, collagen is broken down. Collagen is what holds the muscle fibers together and can make meat tough. After the dry-aging process, the collagen is broken down and all that remains is a very tender protein – or a delicious piece of meat. Dry-aged beef has a more intense beef flavor than meat that is not dry-aged.
How do you prepare meat for the cooler?
When initially trimming the meat for the cooler, it’s good to leave 1/4 to 1 inch of fat around since a lot of that is going to cook out and it carries a lot of flavor. At RARE, we receive wet-aged meats, then we truss these sub primal cuts before hanging them in the cooler.
To download the PDF hand-out from the September 22nd event, click here: RARE’s Dry-aging Demo
RARE Italian Restaurant is located in Fort Collins, CO in the heart of Old Town. We are proud to offer local, fresh ingredients and are committed to seasonality. We offer the best steaks in Northern Colorado, with an extensive wine list of 60+ wines in-house.