Food Finds - Dry-aged steaks at Star Provisions

If you're a serious beef lover, dry-aged steaks are the holy grail

If you're a serious beef lover, dry-aged steaks are the holy grail. When you dry-age beef, the muscle breaks down, which makes the meat more tender. You also eliminate a lot of the moisture, making the beef much drier and easier to cook.

However, not all dry-aged steaks deserve a place on your plate. Star Provisions' Todd Immel says it all starts with the beef. Star Provisions uses prime grain-fed beef, which it sources from Halperns' or Buckhead Beef. Immel focuses on two cuts: bone-in rib-eyes and New York strips. Another key factor is where the beef is aged. Star Provisions built a special walk-in as part of its in-house charcuterie program that's always kept a chilly 40 degrees. The meat is tagged so they can keep track of what went in when. The steak is weighed and placed on its side on special grates with enough distance between the slabs so the air can circulate around each piece. The rib-eyes are aged for 28 days and the New York strips for 21 days. Immel adds that the starting weight plays a huge part in the resulting flavor. If the cut is too big, you lose flavor. Therefore, the steaks are aged in small batches. They start with an average of 18 pounds of rib-eye and 15 or so pounds of New York strips. To get an idea of how much moisture is lost, the beef normally loses about 12 percent to 15 percent of the starting weight after it comes out of the aging room.

Star Provisions cuts and trims the steaks to order per your specifications, which means you can get anywhere from half a pound to a 4-pounder either with no fat and or a thick layer, depending on your taste. The rib-eye sells for $23 per pound and the New York strip for $30.50. Pricey, but the steaks are so full of flavor that a pound is more than enough for two people. As far as cooking, I suggest taking the steaks out of the fridge an hour in advance to bring them to room temperature. This ensures they'll cook more evenly. Shower them with coarse kosher salt and heat up a cast iron pan in the oven set to broil. Carefully move the pan to your stove top and turn the burner up to its highest setting. Sear the steak on all four sides starting with the fattiest side. After you have a good crust, sprinkle a bit more salt on the steaks and move the pan back to the oven to finish them off until they're done to your liking.

If you aren't confident in merely touching the steak to determine the doneness, use a thermometer. Move the steaks to a cutting board, hit them with a dab of butter (a compound butter if you feel fancy), shower with a crack of black pepper, and let them rest under a tent of foil for about 10 minutes. After they're sufficiently rested, slice them and serve with a vinegary green salad.

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