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Dry Aged Brisket | What is It and How is it Prepared?

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Dry Aged Brisket

Aged brisket tends to be a delicacy because of how the process brings out far more flavor from the meat than a general cooking fresh out of the freezer or from the butcher. Much of the process in dry-aging involves dehydrating the meat a bit.

Thin in turn reduces the moisture and concentrates the flavor in the remaining meat structure. The results tend to be a stronger taste and eating experience versus regular brisket just thrown on the grill and cooked, even with flavoring added. 

Is Dry-Aged Brisket Worth It?

Dry-aging is not a new concept. Steakhouses have used the process for years with meat cuts ranging from ribs to strips and flanks. 

Is Dry Aged Beef More Expensive?

Aged steaks are so popular, they often demand high pricing on steak menus, sometimes far and above the fancier cuts with general meat provisions such as tri-tip or filet mignon. Every meat cut can be dry-aged to an extent, but the process with brisket is unique, especially given the size of a brisket order versus smaller steaks.

Is Wet Aged or Dry Aged Beef Better? 

Wet-aging is a fancy name for just leaving the meat in the fridge with it’s cryvac wrapping intact. Basically, but not opening the package, the meat will age inside as its own enzymes do all the hard work, but that also means no exposure to air. So a lot of flavor potential is lost. Dry-aging tends to be better in this regard. 

Dry-aging involves leaving the prepared meat in the fridge at 36 degrees F exposed to air. The fridge will do the work of pulling the moisture out of the meat. That will leave a dried out surface on the meat that later has to be removed. 

Because much of the moisture has been dried out, what typically happens is that the fat in the meat becomes the primary source of juices, enhancing the meat flavor dramatically. Many will argue it’s a very different experience than eating a regular cut of grilled meat. Meat connoisseurs regularly note that the density of aged meat seems thicker and has a far more noticeable texture as well. 

Physical Changes

A typical window of aging is around 21 days or three weeks. The first thing one is going to notice is that the brisket has shrunk in size. 

Coloring will also be very different as well. Aged brisket will go from a raw pink to a deep purplish coloring. Again, the loss of moisture is creating a chemical change in the meat reflected visibly as it dries out. 

Does Dry-aged Brisket Cook Faster? 

Again, the loss of moisture retained in the original cut has been drawn out, so the muscle fiber of the brisket shrinks as the water is lost.

That means that the brisket is going to cook faster as well, so folks will want to watch out for that change in temperature gain and not burn the meat on the grill or smoker. 

How to Dry Age Brisket

Essentially, the meat needs to be laid on a wire rack with space underneath to allow moisture to drip out. The tray itself is placed in a fridge at 36 degrees. A small fan is applied on the tray to provide constant ventilation. Expect a drying process of at least 25 to 30 days for results.

Once done, the outside of the meat has to be trimmed off to remove old exterior as well as some mold. The inside will be edible when cooked. Flavor increases the longer the brisket is aged but the smell could be hard to manage in the fridge.

Some folks go well past 30 days and age as long as 90 days. In these cases, it’s probably better to be using a separate fridge unit with a flat tray capability that can be aired and sanitized later on to get rid of the related funk smell from the aging process. 

Trimming The Brisket

The aged brisket meat should absolutely be trimmed. All the exterior exposed to air should come off and be trimmed as well as any fat block exposed. It will be noticeable with a hard surface and probably mold starting. The rest of the meat inside can be cooked and eaten just fine as the bacteria outside can’t penetrate the exterior surface.