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Old 02-15-2012, 02:17 PM   #1
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Steak well past its prime?

My friend has a theory that steaks get better as they age in his refrigerator, even up to the point that they just begin to smell a little bit "off" odor. He says this is better than buying a freshly butchered stake and eating it the same day.

I've experimented a bit, buying steaks that were on the last day of their "use by" and offered as a 50% off at the market. I might have even let them go a couple days past the "use by" date.

I'm no expert (far from it) but I think his theory works. As a result I have no reluctance to purchase such steaks put on sale to get them out of the store by the "use by" date.

Discuss?

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Old 02-15-2012, 02:38 PM   #2
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As beef ages, enzymes break down the flesh and connective tissue to make it more flavorful. The meat also loses moisture. Aging is considered controlled spoilage so you have to be careful. Beef is aged under controlled conditions to maximize the benefit while preventing spoilage that would ruin the meat.
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:51 PM   #3
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read up on Dry aging, and it's very particular set of conditions. Not something I would try at home. Best reserved for larger primals of beef.
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:30 PM   #4
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That's my point, Tat. AFAIK dry aging is used on the beef sides before the butcher cuts them up and puts them in little plastic containers. (And what I'm suggesting isn't dry aging, not when it's in a plastic package.)

And yet my friend swears by letting the package go to at least the "use by" date and I'm pretty sure he does it much longer. (A week?) I haven't gone much beyond a couple days, but I don't worry about the "use by" date much anymore at the market, because unless they're really messing up there won't be any meat on the store shelf that is past "use by" date.

I'm just saying that steak at the "use by" date might be better than one that got cut off the side that very morning. And even if it's not the safest idea going many days past the "use by" date it seems to work, at least to me it seems to work.

My friend who suggested this is an Internet friend. I've never met him in person but I've seen so many pictures of his cooking and the results, and discussed it with him so many times that I really respect his knowledge as an accomplished amateur chef (mostly grilling, smoking, barbecuing, meat stuff).

It's just a discussion point. Maybe I'm wrong but I thought it would be interesting to toss it into the DC discussion pit and let the fierce chefs rip the idea to shreds.
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:38 PM   #5
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I hear ya, GC.

While I can kinda see where your friend is coming from, you won't see me doing it, and not really because it's wrong, but I couldn't let a steak sit that long without it getting eaten.
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:12 PM   #6
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I think your friend has a valid point Greg.

I was raised in a "mom & pop" meat market/grocery store circa 1948-1963. Dad's meat was the best available, and his meat case was beautiful to behold. People came from miles around to buy meat there, and although his high prices were reflective of the quality and personal service, he did a wonderful business. Nothing was "prepackaged" and there certainly wasn't such a thing as an expiration date on the hand wrapped packages.
Because my Dad was also frugal, the steaks that we enjoyed eating as a family, were the ones that were "too dark" to sell. I've always said I didn't know meat was red, or that grapes came on stems till I was married. He often said the customers were missing out on the dark steaks and I later learned he was so right when I left home and started buying Super Market packaged meat. I often buy steaks in the marked down bin like you and your friend. Dark steaks always have more flavor.
Thanks for the opportunity to walk down memory lane.
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gourmet Greg View Post
That's my point, Tat. AFAIK dry aging is used on the beef sides before the butcher cuts them up and puts them in little plastic containers. (And what I'm suggesting isn't dry aging, not when it's in a plastic package.)
The same concepts of dry aging apply though. The difference is that left in the plastic wrap it will spoil, whereas if you are properly dry aging it you can keep it good for months before you cook it up.
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:23 PM   #8
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Yeah Kayelle, in fact that is what I'm referring to, keeping the steak to the point that there may be noticeable color change. I used to associate that with a "yuck factor," it's so old that the color is all messed up. I don't let the color bother me anymore.

I hear that many (some? all?) meats are packed with extra oxygen to keep the color red, much redder than you would get with plain air. Is that right?
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gourmet Greg View Post
Yeah Kayelle, in fact that is what I'm referring to, keeping the steak to the point that there may be noticeable color change. I used to associate that with a "yuck factor," it's so old that the color is all messed up. I don't let the color bother me anymore.

I hear that many (some? all?) meats are packed with extra oxygen to keep the color red, much redder than you would get with plain air. Is that right?
I think they use nitrogen. I believe that oxygen would cause darkening much faster.
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:32 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Gourmet Greg View Post
I hear that many (some? all?) meats are packed with extra oxygen to keep the color red, much redder than you would get with plain air. Is that right?
True. Many places (aka not proper butcher shops) manipulate the meat or packaging in some way to keep the meat redder. When I want a nice steak I head over to our co-op and the steaks there are not as red as the ones I can pick up at Safeway.

The co-op steaks taste better too

I have always wanted to do dry aging. I don't really have what I need to do it properly though, sadly. I don't want to take the risk of hodge-podging it since I have a strong preference for not giving myself food poisoning.
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