dryageHave you ever wondered why the steak at a great steakhouse can taste so much better and more tender than the steaks you pull off your backyard grill? Or why they cost so much more?

Two little words: dry aging.

Dry aging is the process by which large cuts of beef are aged for anywhere from several weeks to several months before being trimmed and cut into steaks. It’s a process that not only helps the steak develop flavor, but also makes it far more tender than it would be completely fresh.

Because of the large amounts of space and precise monitoring of temperature and humidity required for proper dry-aging, it remains largely the realm of fancy steakhouses like Peter Luger, specialty meat purveyors like Pat LaFrieda, or the occasional high end supermarket like Whole Foods or Fairway.

But if there’s one question I hear more often than any other about expensive beef, it’s, “Can I dry age steak at home?”

Most experts agree that the prospect ranges from either impractical to outright impossible, but recently, I’ve heard from several reputable sources (including Cook’s Illustrated and Alton Brown) that aging individual steaks is, in fact, possible in your home kitchen. Cook’s Illustrated even goes so far as to say, “You can skip shelling out extra money for commercially aged cow.”

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