A raw piece of steak air drying on a piece of paper
Air Drying Is A Foolproof Way To Make Restaurant Quality Meat At Home
By Heidi Chaya
While steaks chilling in cold cases or carcasses hanging look dramatic, they serve to dry age the meat, giving more tasty and tender results than non-dry aged meat. However, dry aging can be time-consuming and expensive, so for quick, restaurant-quality dishes, try air drying your meat.
Drier meat browns more efficiently, yielding a superior crust when cooked. Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn note in their book "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing," that drying also helps form a pellicle, "a tacky surface that the smoke will stick to," which is practical advice for those who grill or cure their meats.
To start, pat your meat dry, and wrap it lightly in cheesecloth to retain moisture; then place the meat on a wire rack over a baking sheet, and put it where your fridge is most cold — typically the back of the bottom shelf — leaving it for three days. You'll want to maintain a constant temperature to slow any unwanted bacterial growth in your air-drying meat, as opening the door will disrupt the condition.
Alton Brown applies air drying to one of his recipes, where he makes a spatchcocked roast turkey by butterflying the bird, adding seasoning, and refrigerating it uncovered for four days. This helps the skin dry out, which will help it crisp up to a beautiful golden brown later.
While air drying will not create the same nuanced, umami flavors and textures in your meat that dry aging does, sources concur that you'll notice a significant difference when you cook air-dried meat. Try it with your next steak dinner, or experiment with different cuts, wild game, or lean options like bison, goat, and rabbit.