Earlier this year, our pal Alexis Gabriel Ainouz, aka French Guy Cooking, posted this excellent YouTube series on him learning about dry-aged beef and then trying his hand at making a meat-drying box for his fridge. I have never tried dry-aged beef, but I hear it’s uniquely delicious. The basic idea is to air-cure the meat for weeks. The outside forms an air-dried crust that locks in the rest of the meat’s moisture and the drying process changes the chemical (and taste) profile of the meat.
One of the things I love about Alex’s channel is that, a former engineer, he often thinks is terms of devices he can make to assist in his cooking projects and he uses a satisfying degree of observation, testing, analysis, and troubleshooting in his kitchen hacks. In exploring dry-aged beef, he decides to build a Styrofoam drying box for his fridge. He not only wants to try his hand at air-drying (and enjoying the tasty results), he wants to use the controlled conditions of the box (and the temp/moisture sensor he installs) to understand what is going on during the drying process.
Things in the Dry-Aged Beef Machine are a little touch and go there for a while, but in the end, he manages to safely age his rib eye roast for 50 days. Watching through the whole series, it’s actually kind of exciting when he finally brings the aged roast to the butcher friend who gave it to him and they enthusiastically cook and eat it.
Another satisfying thing about Alex’s more maker-minded videos is that he always goes over what worked, what didn’t work, and what he would do to improve the project in the future. He even teases a possible Dry-Aged Beef Machine 2.0 to incorporate what he learned in the first experiment.
While Alex built a somewhat elaborate drying box, closely managed his drying process, and was always certain that he was in a safe temperature range, there are dozens of other videos on YouTube showing air-drying methods as simple as placing the roast on a rack, in an open baking pan that has been loaded up with coarse salt and placing that in the fridge. And then there’s the quick-drying with fish sauce method?
I’d love to hear if Make: readers have tried air-drying beef and what methods were used. Please post in the comments below.