How NYC Steakhouses Do Dry-Aged Meat || Food/Groups

How NYC Steakhouses Do Dry-Aged Meat || Food/Groups


What is that smell? It smells so like, rich, and sort of like a cheese… what is that smell, Marc? -Money! That’s what it is. Smells like money, man! This is dry-aged beef. It’s like normal beef, except covered in mold. Done right, it can be delicious. And expensive as all hell. People have been dry-aging meat for centuries, all over the world. But few places take dry-aging as seriously as they do in here, in New York City. Hell, this neighborhood, the Meatpacking District, was once a part of an enormous livestock butchery operation that spanned the entire west side of Manhattan. It drew some of the country’s best cattle from the Midwest and Northeast and turned out premium steaks to be dry-aged to perfection in some of the country’s very first steakhouses. But these days, very little meat-packing actually happens in the meatpacking district. It got too touristy and too expensive. It’s more selfie-sticks than steaks. Do it for the ‘gram. Oh sh*t! Which is why, to check out one of the longest-running, family-owned dry-aging operations that’s been serving New York City, we actually have to leave Manhattan, where it began, and head across the river: to Jersey City. -We were in New York City in the Meatpacking District for forever, and we moved here about 6 years ago. I started with my dad in the ‘70s, have been here since -What is this room? -This is one of our two dry-aged rooms, where all the magic happens. The key to this is it’s temperature, it’s airspeed, airflow, and time. So if you put a piece of fresh meat in here — which we do every day, we put about 800, 1000 pieces of meat in here on a weekly basis, that wonderful-smelling bacteria jumps on the new product, obviously, as the meat dries, it does scab up and it does get funky-looking. The bacteria just help in the process of breaking down the product and giving it a certain flavor profile. That rind, like you take the rind off a heavily-aged piece of cheese, it’s gonna come off. You might only end up with 40%, 45% of the weight you started with. How has dry-aging as a process, and as a practice, how has it changed, has it stayed the same? -For me it has never changed, it’s always about the quality of the beef you start with. -With our dry-aging crash-course done, we left DeBragga and headed back to New York City proper. Our destination? Smith & Wollensky, a classic midtown meat mecca that’s been dry-aging its own steaks for nearly four decades. I get in here 3:30, quarter to four in the morning. I touch every piece of meat that comes in the building. This way, I know what I’m getting. Consistency, consistency, consistency. Like you see, every piece of meat here looks the same, doesn’t it? The size of it, the color of it… -It’s not so easy -No, it’s not, but after 35 years, it becomes very easy. And actually I’m doing 2 tons of beef today. -And they butcher every day right? -Every day. -Do you ever sleep? -Yeah. -Do you dream of meat? -3 or 4 hours a night. -These broilers are so intense, you just gotta watch it so you don’t get too much of a burn on them. We like to have the steaks charred, but not too much. -And now we’re at my favorite place in Smith & Wollensky, which is at the table, about to eat. -Why do you think it’s worth it to dry-age? -You just tasted why it’s worth it. You know? I mean it’s a unique flavor. You don’t get a piece of meat – if you were to eat a piece of meat at home, you would never have something like that. Smith & Wollensky is an absolute classic, but steakhouses are hardly the only places that New York City’s dry-aging tradition is on display. Which is why now we’re headed to Brooklyn, to a pizza place to eat an absolutely transcendent dry-aged burger. Let’s go meet Emily. -I had never worked with dry aged beef before we got it here.- I’d only had it maybe twice before, eating in restaurants. -We are at our heart a pizza restaurant, so we’re designed to do a lot of pizza, but we weren’t designed to do mass volume lots of other items outside of our line. -We hand-form our patties when the beef comes in. It’s 30-day aged. When it comes off it gets Grafton 2-year cheddar. It gets some caramelized onions, and it gets our special sauce. With dry-aged beef, searing it makes it really nice and crispy on the outside, but you still get the funkiness in the middle, I think that’s a really unique part of our burger. So it’s sorta like a textural, flavorful combination i like with the dry aged beef, more so than with the regular, fresh beef. -On a busy night, about how quickly will those sell out? -It could be under an hour. Now I can’t eat them anymore because we run out every night. It’s always risky to put things on your menu, open a restaurant of classic foods that people are already, their sorta mindset is already like ‘we know pizza, we know burgers’. We’re just trying to put our spin on something we both love. Because a lot of stuff on our menu is stuff I want to eat. It’s a funky burger and that’s the burger I want to eat.

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