Beef with a whisky chaser

Beef aged with whisky is all the rage—here’s why and here’s how

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YOU HAVE LIKELY heard of whiskyaged beef by now. If you haven’t—take it from me—you’ll want to try some, soon­est. In the mean­time, I shall give you a quick back­grounder on its prove­nance and how you can make it—or, at least, how I did, with a lit­tle help from my friend Stephen Alexan­der, owner of the jus­ti­fi­ably es­teemed On­tario butcher-shop chain Cum­brae’s (cum­braes.com).

Steve’s shop was the first place in Toronto where I ever found a good dry-aged steak. And I mean back in the nineties— long be­fore you could find any­thing sim­i­lar in Mon­treal, or Van­cou­ver, or any­where in be­tween. Or, to be more pre­cise, long af­ter you could—be­cause dry-ag­ing was of course how things were orig­i­nally done, un­til the Cry­ovac bag and its as­so­ci­ated economies came along in the 1960s and made dry-age­ing an all but for­got­ten craft.

In the past decade or so it has come back with such a vengeance as to pro­voke some­thing of a meat-locker arms race. Just five years ago, a restau­rant menu of­fer­ing 60day dry-aged steaks was all but guar­an­teed to im­press im­pres­sion­able cus­tomers. Now, it takes 120. I’ve even seen 160. And never mind that—there’s a butcher in Mon­treal called Marc Bourg (Le Marc­hand du Bourg,

Words and pic­tures by JA­COB RICH­LER

marchand­dubourg.com) who has sold steaks at 365-days, and—with a view to seek­ing out me­dia cov­er­age—been known to boast of be­ing at work on ag­ing some beef for six or seven years.

For­tu­nately, be­fore any us had to risk eat­ing that, some­thing new came along. En­ter Yves-Marie Le Bour­don­nec, France’s best-known butcher (Boucherie le Bour­don­nec, lebour­don­nec.com) and its icon­o­clas­tic ri­poste to Italy’s Dario Cec­chini. Le Bour­don­nec is best-known for his breed­ing projects (like cross-breed­ing large, lean French Charo­lais with more steak-friendly Bri­tish An­gus). He also likes to push the

STEPHEN ALEXAN­DER (CUM­BRAE’S).

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