Dry-aged steak is king among meat. The perfect steak requires not only high-quality product, but also proper preparation.
Directly from the refrigerator to the pan... the steak is doomed. Because of the dramatic heat change, proteins seize and water is forced from the product. The result is a gray, dry, lifeless piece of meat… a waste of potential greatness. Dry-aged steak should be allowed to come to room temperature for 30-60 minutes before firing in the pan or on the grill.
Marinating before or seasoning after? A good dry-aged steak doesn’t need much. On the contrary, marinades can rather overwhelm the taste of the meat. The perfect steak needs salt, but the question of timing is integral. When meat is salted, its water is drawn to the surface, and a film is formed on the exterior of the meat. This process takes about 15 minutes. If you wait another half an hour, the salty film dissolves and the salted water is drawn back into the steak and thus reaches the center, seasoning the steak throughout. Thusly, the ideal time to season meat is roughly 45 minutes prior to cooking or up to overnight.
Dry-aged steak should always be as dry as possible prior to cooking. Water on the surface of the meat evaporates first and hinders the maillard reaction, which creates the crust we all desire. To avoid this pitfall, simply dab the excess moisture with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.
To ensure the iconic caramelization of a great dry-aged steak, it should be pan seared. This creates a superbly crispy, brown outer crust, and a delicious caramelized flavor. Preheating the pan is integral to the success of the maillard reaction and ultimately, the outcome of the steak. First, preheat, then add fat. Once the pan and oil are properly brought to temp, the steak finds its way to the pan. 60-90 seconds per sideis all it takes to produce a perfect crust and caramelized flavor.
For the best outcome, it is recommended to finish the steak in a 400° oven until it has reached your desired doneness. While the easiest way to determine temperature precisely, is to use a meat thermometer, the touch test is the go-to for most seasoned cooks and chefs.
Below is a guide to both exact temperatures and the touch test. The touch test works by touching a thumb and finger together and using the opposite hand to test the firmness of the fleshy part beneath the thumb. Refer to the guide below to determine doneness by touch.
● Rare: 118-125°F: Thumb and index finger.
● Medium Rare: approx. 126-131°F: Thumb and middle finger.
● Medium: 132-139°F: Thumb and ring finger.
● Well Done / 140-144°F: Thumb and little finger.