The Art of Dry Aging Beef

Grant Zozulinsky, Master Beef Maker

Grant Zozulinsky, Master Beef Maker of Moscow, Russia, holding a beautifully-aged porterhouse, soon to be cut into individual steaks.

What is Dry Aging?

Dry aging works by exposing the naked beef to a carefully-controlled environment with precise temperature and humidity levels. Meat is left in a special refrigerator or room to decrease moisture while increasing tenderness, while the flavor of the beef is altered during this process from a combination of water loss, bacteria, enzyme breakdown and oxidation. But this scientific definition doesn’t actually tell the entire story:

The Art of Dry Aging

Like making a very fine cheese or wine, making dry-aged beef is much more than simply placing meat on a shelf. Sure, you may go into a fancy restaurant and see beef aging in a aging refrigerator, but that’s the equivalent of making mozzarella. The very finest dry-aged beef is an art; a passion, and takes years of preparation for a master beef maker to develop the sublime nutty, cheesy tastes that are his signature style.

Like making a fine cheese, aging beef requires bacteria; there are thousands of different type of bacteria, and it takes years to “season” the aging room to the bacteria that gives the beef the proper flavor. Make no mistake, if you put the same cuts of beef from the same cow in two master beef makers’ refrigerators, you would end up with two steak with two very distinct flavors.

Bacteria cultivation is a complicated process what takes years to achieve. Unlike aging cheese, bacteria isn’t bought and sprinkled on top. instead, certain cuts of meat already contain the natural bacteria and need to be left inside for months, or even years, in different proportions. The master must take careful steps not to bring in from outside, unwanted bacteria that can contaminate the existing bacteria and change the flavors he worked so hard to develop.
Why is dry-aged beef more expensive:

The longer a piece of beef ages, the more water it loses. The bacteria break down the connective tissues and it becomes more tender and flavorful. When the master gets a piece of beef, that beef can cost X number of rubles. Let’s imagine you start with a piece of beef that weighs one kilogram. After one month, or 60 days of aging, that beef can weight up to 35% less, meaning each gram of beef is 35% more expensive.
In addition, there is only so much beef that can fit into a refrigerator. A significant investment both in purchasing the beef, and allocating the space for the cut of meat that will have to stay there for at least one month. During this time, the beef will require constant attention and inspection to make sure it is aging in the most desirable way.

Aging the most delicious beef is a very fine art, and like all great works of art, takes time, effort and talent to produce a masterpiece. Grant Zozulinsky has dedicated the last half of his life to the study and mastery of this art. He spend several years in the United States, learning on the best farms. Once his began mastering his craft, he further traveled to France for several years, learning from artesian butchers and beef makers. Now, Grant is back to provide you with the most delicious meat Russia has ever seen.