May 10, 2021
Have you ever walked by the Co-op meat department, noticed a large glassed-in case with beef inside, and wondered what’s going on in there? That’s Co-op’s Only Alberta Dry Aged Beef. It definitely looks different from the steaks you may see in the display case or packaged, so what’s up with Dry Aged Beef?
What is dry aging, exactly?
We went right to the expert for answers to your questions about Only Alberta Dry Aged Beef. James Lelonde is the Meat Category Director at Calgary Co-operative Association Limited, and he shares that this method of aging been is much more traditional.
“At Co-op, we use the time-honoured dry-aging process. We start by choosing premium cuts of Canadian AAA beef (upper 2 thirds), then the beef is hung or placed in a refrigerated environment where both temperature and humidity are strictly controlled.”
During the Dry Aging process, moisture is drawn from the muscle of the beef and a crust similar to what you notice on beef jerky forms on the outside. The meat shrinks which results in a more highly concentrated and intenser flavour.
“What’s going on in there is natural enzymes from the beef break down tissue and this tenderizes the meat. This is similar to the wet-aging process where beef is vacuum sealed and aged in a package, but we find this process produces much more tender and flavourful meat,” continues Lelonde.
Where to find Dry Aged beef in Calgary
For best tenderness, Dry Aged Beef at Co-op is aged for 28 days. The dry outer layer is then trimmed away, and the meat is cut and displayed in our full service meat counters, or custom cut by our local butchers at select Calgary Co-op locations.
What makes Co-op Only Alberta Dry Aged Beef special?
Foodies and chefs love natural tasting products, and that’s what Dry Aging does.
“The flavour customers can expect from Dry Aged Beef at Co-op is more buttery and nutty and it brings a new depth of flavour that most people have never experienced,” Lelonde says. “This makes it a true centerpiece of your meal—and a great talking point around the dinner table.”
What kind of cuts are dry aged at Co-op?
Calgary Co-op offers two cuts in the Dry Aged category; Prime Rib and Strip Loin.
“With the Prime Rib we offer cuts like Bone-In Prime Rib Grilling Steaks, Boneless Prime Rib Grilling Steak, Rib Eye Grilling Steaks, Premium Prime Rib Oven Roast. From the Strip Loin we offer Boneless Strip Loin Grilling Steaks.”
Co-op uses AAA Only Alberta Beef for Dry Aging exclusively
All cuts of Dry Aged Beef available at Co-op are AAA quality beef. Lelonde explains, “If you are going to present the best cut of beef then AAA is the only way to do it and it’s Only Alberta Beef. With the extra marbling thanks to this high quality beef, this will further enhance your dining experience and make the meat ultra-tender and intensely flavoured.”
How best to prepare and cook Dry Aged Beef
There’s almost no bad way to prepare your Dry Aged Beef; you should cook it the way you like it. Lelonde’s preference is to use a cast iron frying pan.
“In my mind, this is the best way to cook steak—bar none. Cooked medium rare it’s just so perfect. Get the pan good and hot and set it to high heat to caramelize the outer crust. Give it a quick, hot sear on both sides, then finish it in the oven or use offset heat on the barbecue if you’re confident with your grill.”
Next time you pass by that mysterious case, stop and ask the local butcher what’s inside this month, and consider treating yourself to one of the tastiest, tenderest steak dinners around.
Find Only Alberta AAA Dry Aged Beef at select Calgary Co-op locations or ask your local butcher for more information.
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