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Old 11 July 2018, 03:47 PM
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Darth Credence Darth Credence is offline
 
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Icon23 Steak - prime, aged, and Wagyu

We did a taste test over the weekend, and I thought I'd share and perhaps solicit some thoughts on steak preparation.

A while back, we decided that we don't eat steak all that often, so if we are going to do it, we are going to get better cuts of meat. We've been eating prime rib-eye for the most part, with a prime tenderloin as the other major choice. And they have been great! But we changed butchers to one that wasn't quite as far away, and found that they have prime, 21-day aged prime, and Wagyu beef. The price difference can be pretty steep, especially for the Wagyu, so we wanted to make sure that we were getting good steak without wasting money. Time for a blind taste test!

DW bought one of each type, as close in size to each other as she could. She blocked any identifiers, labelled them A, B, and C, and turned them over to me.

Day one was steak C. Let it come completely to room temperature, seasoned with a touch of salt and pepper, heated the oven to 500, and got a skillet smoking hot. Cooked for 2 minutes, flipped to see a nice brown crust, and put it in the oven until it hit 130 F. Transferred to a plate to rest, and added a couple of patties of garlic herb butter to melt while it rested. Cut it in half, and we ate. We decided to call the first one a 7/10, so we had room to move. It was good - really tender, but not as much flavor as you could hope for. We had cut down on spicing compared to normal, and used no sauce of any kind, just the butter. We liked this, but would have wanted a bit more spice before cooking.

Day 2, steak A. Same process. This time, one bite and we both went to a 9/10, if only because we wanted a touch of room to go higher if the next one was better. It had a deep, meaty flavor that the previous steak couldn't touch. No more seasoning needed, and as good as any steak I had ever had at any steakhouse.

Day 3, steak B. Same process. I went to about 9.25/10, and DW went to 9.5/10. It was hard to describe why it was better, but we both independently found it to be a bit better than the previous one. Maybe it was a little more tender? Not sure, but it was better by a nose.

We then compared notes, and the order was prime, aged, then Wagyu. So the Wagyu was better than the aged prime, but when comparing the prices of them, it wasn't that much better. When we have steak again, it will almost certainly be the aged prime. Really, if you have access to it and are willing to shell out a bit more (It think it was in the $22/lb range), it will be a much better experience than going with choice, or even prime.

So, anyone else love a good steak? Cooking suggestions, or side dish suggestions would be welcome, as well. For sides, we had fresh picked sweet corn all three days, and various potatoes and grilled veggies.
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Old 11 July 2018, 03:56 PM
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No suggestions for cooking but have you tried gorgonzola as a topping? Really good, the two contrasting flavors combine to form an excellent taste.
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Old 11 July 2018, 05:31 PM
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Great experiment! Thanks for the data

I'll request suggestions too... I love an herbed butter or other cream/cheese addition to a steak, but SO is mostly-kosher and can't combine meat & milk products. Anyone have recommendations for a good parve alternative? It's not the end of the world if we have to cook our steaks differently, but it's nice when we're able to find dishes that work for both of us.
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Old 11 July 2018, 05:33 PM
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I am impressed with your process! I think the aged beef is a good choice if you can get it from the butcher. IIRC, a number of high end steak places age their beef before using it.
BTW, let me second the gorgonzola, had a great steak with that cheese topping it in a restaurant-one of my better steak experiences.

Ali
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Old 11 July 2018, 05:46 PM
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mbravo, what about olive oil or one of the other vegetable oils? A bread dipping oil recipe might be a good starting point.
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Old 11 July 2018, 07:30 PM
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Ooh, Gorgonzola sounds good. Something like a sauce, or a crust? I've seen steaks with crusts, but I've never tried making one.
mbravo, I have some fairly complex recipes for sauces. After visiting Europe a long while back, I got on a sauce kick and got pretty good at making an au poivre and a bacon bourbon sauce. The au poivre has cream and butter so that wouldn't work, but if you are up for a complex sauce, let me know and I'll get out the recipe. It was good enough it made our family cookbook.
For something a bit easier, chimichurri or gremolata work pretty well. Chimichurri is basically fresh herbs and garlic in olive oil. Gremolata is just minced garlic, chopped parsley, and lemon zest. It could be combined with some olive oil as well.
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Old 13 July 2018, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbravo View Post
Great experiment! Thanks for the data

I'll request suggestions too... I love an herbed butter or other cream/cheese addition to a steak, but SO is mostly-kosher and can't combine meat & milk products.
Shallots and red wine sauce, just skip the butter, or substitute olive oil, as suggested.

This is close to our favorite sauce for steak (we don't use the red currant jelly and use dijon mustard). Gorgonzola is tasty, but I don't always have the gorgonzola on hand.
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Old 13 July 2018, 06:15 PM
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I've never understood why anyone would drown good steak in a bunch of sauce. When I eat a steak, I want to taste the meat, not 25 other flavors from the toppings. If it's a tough round steak, sure, I might put something on top, but for a good cut... I've never found the need. I only use Montreal Steak Spice on steak.

Reminds me of people eating a bratwurst sausage covered in mustard. Are you trying to taste the mustard or the meat?

OY
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Old 13 July 2018, 06:51 PM
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OY, I'm trying to taste the combination, which is like neither alone.

I'm not a sauce person either, but even I know it's not a matter of tasting one thing to the exclusion of the other.
Seaboe
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Old 13 July 2018, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overyonder View Post
I've never understood why anyone would drown good steak in a bunch of sauce. When I eat a steak, I want to taste the meat, not 25 other flavors from the toppings. If it's a tough round steak, sure, I might put something on top, but for a good cut... I've never found the need. I only use Montreal Steak Spice on steak.

Reminds me of people eating a bratwurst sausage covered in mustard. Are you trying to taste the mustard or the meat?

OY
Because I like the flavor of the steak combined with the steak sauce?

And I like mustard/ketchup/horse radish (all mixed together) with my bratwurst because I find it enhances the flavour.

And finally - because different people want/like different things than you.
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Old 13 July 2018, 08:03 PM
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Darth Credence,

I'm inspired by your post. My MIL has been buying us a whole boneless ribeye subprimal from Costco whenever she visits. She then greets me with, "I brought you some work" because I get to cut it up into steaks before freezing it. I absolutely love a good ribeye steak, and a roast done right is also amazing. But the last few steaks I've pulled out of the freezer have been unimpressive. So much so that I went back and checked the ziplock bag to see if I'd accidentally pulled out an inferior cut of meat.

I can't invite MIL to buy us more expensive meat, but I think next time she comes, I'm going to try DIY dry aging. Nothing too drastic, but I think, based on the most recent steaks, this meat could be vastly improved by some aging to make it more tender and less watery. SO is part of a "buy nothing" group, and I told her to keep an eye out for a free mini fridge.

As for preparation, I prefer grilling, but most of the time I just use a cast iron pan over high heat. I think I'll start combining that with the 500 oven as you described. I like mine a bit more rare, as well, so I usually don't go past about 122 internal temp.

For seasoning, I use Johnny's seasoned salt, but I would use anything similar that has a good amount of MSG in it. I highly recommend trying something with MSG if you are not opposed to it. It strongly enhances the flavor of the steak in my opinion. I add it at the beginning, after patting steaks dry.

My go to accompaniment is sauteed onions (caramelized) and mushrooms.
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Old 13 July 2018, 08:27 PM
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Flavor of meat is also affected both by what the animal's been eating, and whether it got any exercise.
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Old 13 July 2018, 09:26 PM
overyonder overyonder is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morrigan View Post
And finally - because different people want/like different things than you.
That goes without saying... But it still doesn't work for me to drown a good piece of steak or sausage or other meat with crazy amounts of condiments

In particular, loading up a bratwurst with very strong spicy mustard to the point that all you taste is the mustard.

OY
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Old 13 July 2018, 09:44 PM
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I remember reading that Julia Child liked her beef aged "German" style (IIRC) to the point it was slightly gamy. Not sure I would like that but how do you age beef?
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Old 13 July 2018, 10:04 PM
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Dry aging means keeping it refrigerated within a specific temperature (32-40 F) and humidity range without a moisture barrier. This causes the meat to lose moisture, which concentrates the flavor, and it allows enzymes to work within the muscle, so that the meat becomes more tender. Meat enclosed in plastic is considered "wet aged," which does not have the same effects.

Aging for as little as a few days to a week is supposed to have noticable effects. A couple of weeks is probably the maximum I would do. Apparently once you go much past, say, 3 weeks, you start getting "earthy" flavors and smells, and I've heard longer-aged meat described as having some cheese-like smells. I'm not interested in going in that direction....

Dry aged meat is more expensive because of the process, but also because you wind up with less meat at the end of the aging. The meat gets a hard outer layer that has to be trimmed away (which is why you do it with large cuts) and you lose something like 20% of the weight due to moisture loss.
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Old 14 July 2018, 08:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overyonder View Post
That goes without saying... But it still doesn't work for me to drown a good piece of steak or sausage or other meat with crazy amounts of condiments
AFAIK, no one comes to Switzerland for their meat products. Currently Irish beef is trendy, which is a good thing, because Swiss beef needs something else on it, as it has very little flavor of its own.

And the wurst here is usually grilled or served cold with cheese and a salad sauce.
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Old 15 July 2018, 03:26 PM
overyonder overyonder is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Die Capacitrix View Post
AFAIK, no one comes to Switzerland for their meat products. Currently Irish beef is trendy, which is a good thing, because Swiss beef needs something else on it, as it has very little flavor of its own.

And the wurst here is usually grilled or served cold with cheese and a salad sauce.
I can certainly understand that. If the beef/meat has little flavor on its own, a sauce is pretty much de rigueur

OY
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Old 16 July 2018, 06:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
Darth Credence,

I'm inspired by your post. My MIL has been buying us a whole boneless ribeye subprimal from Costco whenever she visits. She then greets me with, "I brought you some work" because I get to cut it up into steaks before freezing it. I absolutely love a good ribeye steak, and a roast done right is also amazing. But the last few steaks I've pulled out of the freezer have been unimpressive. So much so that I went back and checked the ziplock bag to see if I'd accidentally pulled out an inferior cut of meat.

I can't invite MIL to buy us more expensive meat, but I think next time she comes, I'm going to try DIY dry aging. Nothing too drastic, but I think, based on the most recent steaks, this meat could be vastly improved by some aging to make it more tender and less watery. SO is part of a "buy nothing" group, and I told her to keep an eye out for a free mini fridge.

As for preparation, I prefer grilling, but most of the time I just use a cast iron pan over high heat. I think I'll start combining that with the 500 oven as you described. I like mine a bit more rare, as well, so I usually don't go past about 122 internal temp.

For seasoning, I use Johnny's seasoned salt, but I would use anything similar that has a good amount of MSG in it. I highly recommend trying something with MSG if you are not opposed to it. It strongly enhances the flavor of the steak in my opinion. I add it at the beginning, after patting steaks dry.

My go to accompaniment is sauteed onions (caramelized) and mushrooms.
Let me know how home dry aging works out. I could conceivably get a side of beef, and although they do some aging, I might want to age more. If it is reasonable, I might do it.
As to MSG, I'm also a big believer. I didn't use it for this particular test, but it (called Accent in the bottle) is a part of my dry rub.
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Old 16 July 2018, 11:35 PM
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I was looking up various ways to age steak at home. Many seem to cost more money than I want to spend. I have an idea I am going to implement in a couple of weeks. I am going to find a rack that can hold 2 small steaks and a plastic container that it fits in. I am going to cut holes in the sides of the container so I can set the steaks in the fridge. By the way, it helps that we have 2 full size fridges.
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Old 17 July 2018, 12:14 AM
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Small steaks might not give you much to actually eat, because, AIUI, you need to trim off the outer layer after aging.
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