So fresh off the heels of my Thanksgiving post, I am writing this one. I’ve scheduled this so you’re reading this not too long after my previous post. And to tell you the truth, this intro is proving to be difficult since you’re not reading this right after I write it, which is the norm. I’m writing this from the past, technically. Let me just hop in my Delorean, and we’ll be good to go.
So as I mentioned before, I’m not too keen on making plans for my posts, so I’m just gonna jump in. Progress with my quest to become a chef is coming along nicely. Things are falling into place, and I have my orientation at the end of this week. I’ll be getting my uniforms, hopefully my schedule, and hopefully my tool kit. This tool kit is pretty epic. I thought I would be getting just the full outfit of knives, but it is much more then that. Not only does it include all of the essential knives, it’s an arsenal of culinary weaponry. Whisks, peelers, shears, thermometers, spatulas, among other things. All in a convenient carrying case. Perhaps when I get it, I’ll take some pics and take you on a loving tour of my hardware.
As you can probably guess, I’m very excited to be starting that chapter of my life. But you know what? This blog’s not about me. It’s about food. And something I want to talk about is dry-aging. Another “home culinary unicorn” so-to-speak, dry-aging is technically “controlled rotting.” And while that might not sound that great, it actually is. The difference between rotting and aging are the conditions. Rotting can be done in any condition, but dry-aging requires a certain temperature range and level of humidity. The reason why I am talking about dry-aging is because I have just started the process for my Christmas roast. I will be (hopefully) showing you the different steps of this process, since it CAN be done at home, and can really add a ton of depth to an already amazing piece of beef.
So what does dry-aging do, exactly? Well, as the name implies, it dries out the meat a little bit. This may not sound ideal to an average person, because you want a piece of beef to be juicy right? Well, in professionally dry-aged beef, you get a huge trade-off of juiciness for tenderness, which is a worthy compromise. The meat is still juicy, but just not oozing juice like you might be used to. This process works because, like a human, cows are a considerable percentage of water. I heard that a typical standing rib roast is somewhere around 30% water. Water doesn’t have a lot of flavor. So by dry-aging, you are concentrating the ratio of beef:mass, making it that much more intense. High-end steakhouses will sometimes age their beef for 6-8 weeks in very controlled lockers. We don’t have that luxury at home, and I think 30-days is a good threshold for home cooks. In fact, in as little as 3 days, you would notice an improvement in quality.
Consider this Exhibit A. This is my experime…I mean…Christmas roast. Yes, we’re 2 weeks out. So what does that mean? It means this is going to look completely different on Christmas morning. So what’s the process? Well, if you’re brave enough to ever tackle this challenge, I’ve got the roast contained in something with sides, to ensure no juices seep out into my fridge. It’s also on a bed of paper towels, that will be changed out every so often, since they will become saturated. I’ve then wrapped the whole roast in some cheese cloth, and that will be changed every few days, as well. Before doing all this, I weighed it. Just to give you an idea of our journey. And don’t worry. For the sake of accuracy, I’ve pre-weighed the container it’s in so I can get a true reading on the meat. My standing rib roast weighs 5 pounds, 3.625 ounces. This, of course, includes the bones and all that jazz. I have never dry-aged this long, nor did I ever take the measurements, so I think it will be really interesting to see the final weight of the roast. I think it’s worth mentioning that a standing rib roast is basically just a gigantic bone-in rib eye steak…which explains the fat content that makes this so juicy and delicious. It also worth mentioning that nowhere in this post have I said “prime rib.” You see, that is a common misnomer amongst people (and grocery stores, sometimes.) Prime is a grade of beef that you typically do not find in a grocery store. It is the creme de la creme. It is also very expensive. To be accurate, you would probably be buying a “Choice rib,” which doesn’t sound as good as “Prime rib.” But you’ll be saving tons of money.
So when all is said and done with this roast, I plan on seasoning it very simply and roasting it to a perfect medium-rare. Maybe a little past that since my diners do not like their meat as rare as I do. But it is imperative to season very simply here, because the beef is going to have an amazing flavor all by itself, and won’t need too much help.
As always, I am open to your suggestions on what to write about! I’m here for you, so let me know what you want, and I will do my best to deliver.Stay positive, love your life and play with your food 🙂