I) WET-AGED RIBEYE
Some things are expected to improve with old age. Cheese, wine, denim – but meat? If you baulk at the thought of six-month-old steak, you’re having a cow for no reason. “The longer you age meat, the more punchy its flavour,” says chef Michael Reid of M Restaurants. But it delivers more than gourmet kudos: ageing loosens the connective tissue, making the nutrients easier to absorb. For more goodness per gram, here’s how it breaks down. As the name suggests, wet-ageing is about introducing moisture. The beef is vacuum-sealed in plastic. “Natural juices from the beef tenderise the meat and make it more flavoursome and juicy,” Reid says. “It’s almost like a marination.” As with people, some steaks age better than others. Reid favours the ribeye: “Fat acts as a protective coat, so there’s less lost to tough skin.” He suggests ignoring health-hipster lore and looking for cows that have been fed grass and grain. “It enhances the marbling and gives the beef richness.”
The more your meat has aged, the drier it will be, and therefore the less you want to cook it. For example, a six-month ribeye will take half the time of a one-week-old cut. And you can shelve the extra-virgin olive oil. Once Reid has trimmed off the excess fat, he renders it down and uses it as a baste. Your summer body will profit from such thrift, too: the fat and cholesterol in red meat helps to maintain healthy testosterone levels, according to nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert.
Invest in a thick-based steel or aluminium pan, which holds and disperses heat for the all-important maillard crust, delivering maximum flavour. Finally, Reid favours Wüsthof knives, which have a straight, clean edge that won’t damage the protein when slicing. After a six-month prep period, it would be a shame to dull the experience.