Though it requires planning ahead, aging steak often results in better flavor. Of course, that’s assuming that you’ve done it right. The meat will spoil if you attempt to keep it in the fridge for too long without taking the proper precautions first.
Our guide to butter aged steak will take you through this unique process to ensure that you wind up with deliciously tender meat.
Butter Aged Steak
Butter aging is a unique preservation technique that can boost the flavor of premium steak cuts. Be sure to start with Prime cuts, and use a dedicated fridge to ensure that the steaks stay nice and cold throughout the storage period. Salted butter will enhance the flavor, but you can use the unsalted type if you prefer.
What Is Butter Aged Steak?
Butter aged steak is just what it sounds like: steak that’s been aged after being smothered with butter. If you’ve never heard of it before, that’s because it’s not easy to find pre-aged steak in supermarkets, or even at smaller butcher shops.
It takes time and effort to make butter-aged steak. This drives up the prices, and since many folks are unfamiliar with the concept, there’s no guarantee that retailers will get a return on their investment.
If you want to buy steaks that have already been aged in butter, you can try specialty online retailers like Snake River Farms and Wild Fork Foods. But many home chefs opt to get the job done themselves.
Best Steaks To Use
When shopping for steaks to use for butter aging, look for the Prime label.
The USDA beef grading scale can tell you a great deal about the quality of the beef. If it’s given the Prime rating, the meat will have plenty of marbling, or intramuscular fat. That imbues the steak with flavor as well as moisture.
The best steaks to use for butter aging are tenderloins, T-bones and Porterhouses, New York strip steaks, and ribeyes. Other cuts might benefit from the process as well, but the results will be superior if you start with one of these.
Is Butter Aging Steak Safe?
Absolutely. You’ll need to maintain a cold fridge temperature and make sure to coat the meat evenly with butter. But as long as you follow these steps, the meat shouldn’t go bad during the long storage period.
When you do it properly, the steak shouldn’t spoil because the bacteria and moisture levels are kept under strict control. This also improves the flavor of the meat.
You’ll be able to tell if the steak has spoiled during the aging process by smelling it. A properly aged steak might have a strong odor, reminiscent of a good blue cheese. If it’s spoiled, the smell will be foul enough to make you take a step back.
What Does Butter-Aged Steak Taste Like?
The aging process enhances the naturally beefy flavor of the steak. That’s true even when the steaks are dry aged instead of butter aged.
But butter aging has another interesting effect: It gives the steak subtler nuances as well. You might find that the flavor reminds you of warm popcorn, owing to the buttery undertones. Only you can decide whether the results are worth the extra time and expense.
The Importance of a Dedicated Fridge
If you want to age steaks on a regular basis, you should have a dedicated fridge. That means setting aside a separate fridge that isn’t used for anything else.
That might sound like an indulgence, but it’s a critical aspect of the aging process. The steak shouldn’t be contaminated by any other flavors. Using a dedicated fridge is the only way to ensure this.
There’s also the fact that a regular fridge gets opened multiple times per day. That can spell disaster when you’re attempting to age a piece of meat. You want the refrigerator temperature to hold steady at 33 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit the entire time.
How Long Does Butter-Aged Steak Keep in the Fridge?
Once the steaks are no longer encased in the butter shield, you’ll have just 5 to 6 days to cook them off before they start to show signs of spoilage.
We prefer to cook the steaks on the same day that we halt the aging process. Keeping them around longer won’t improve the flavor. Fortunately, since you’ll have 60 days to plan ahead, this shouldn’t be too difficult.
Butter Aging Steak: A Step-By-Step Guide
1. Determine how long you want the steaks to age. Butchers generally recommend a 60-day aging process, especially if this is the first time you’re trying them. That way, you’ll be able to decide whether or not you think the results are worth the effort.
2. Select your butter. Since the steaks will be spending so much time in the mixture, the butter you use will have a direct impact on the flavor.
Salted butter has a longer shelf life than unsalted butter, owing to the fact that salt is a natural preservative. While unsalted butter lasts about 3 months in the fridge, salted butter can keep for up to 5 months.
The preservative aspect is the main reason why you should use salted butter when butter-aging steak. It will improve both the flavor and the overall results. We would recommend using unsalted butter only if you’re cutting back on salt for health reasons.
That said, it’s impossible to tell how much salt is in the salted butter, which is why baking recipes call for unsalted butter instead. So if you’re concerned about the steak tasting too salty, you can opt for the unsalted version.
3. Assemble your ingredients. In addition to the steaks, you’ll need at least 6 tablespoons of butter for each steak. Make sure it’s warmed to room temperature.
4. Set the steak in a deep pan. Put on a pair of disposable gloves.
5. Coat the steaks all over with butter, ensuring that there’s an even layer of butter covering the entire surface of each cut.
6. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap or wax paper. Place the buttered steak in the fridge.
7. At this point, you’ll need to wait it out for 60 days. It can be frustrating, but don’t be tempted to pull the steak too soon, or it won’t have the same flavor and texture.
How To Cook Butter Aged Steak
After 60 days, it’s time to prepare the steak. The best way to cook a butter-aged steak is with the sous vide method, but you can pan-sear it if you don’t have the right equipment.
1. Allow the steak to rest at room temperature for about 1 hour. Have on hand about 1 teaspoon each of minced garlic, fresh thyme, and fresh rosemary, in addition to extra butter.
2. Fill a large pot about 2/3 full of water. Heat the water to 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Encase the steaks in vacuum-sealed bags before adding them to the water bath. Let them sit in the sous vide for 1 to 3 hours.
4. Set a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the steaks from the sous vide and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
5. Pan-sear the steaks for 2 minutes per side, adding the minced garlic and herbs to the pan after you flip the steaks. You can also add a tablespoon or two of butter, using a spoon to ladle the butter over the steaks as soon as it melts.
6. When the steaks have cooked to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, remove them from the heat. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
The Bottom Line
It isn’t difficult to age steaks at home—you just need time, patience, and the right equipment.
Don’t attempt to butter age steaks unless you have a dedicated fridge set up. If you try to use your household fridge, you won’t be happy with the results. In fact, the steak might even spoil during the storage period, which would be a huge waste of money.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!