“Pork is generally undervalued,” says Brooklyn-based butcher Brent Young. “It deserves to be on the menu at a steakhouse right next to that New York Strip or your Ribeye.” Ben Turley, his partner at the Meat Hook butcher shop, is in full agreement. With their high opinion of pork, they decide to embark on a dry-aged pork experiment that they believe will result in a steakhouse-level dish.
The experiment involves around a four week dry-age process. “[At four weeks,] you don’t get the funk or umami from [longer] dry-aging, but you do get a really crisp and clear picture from the product you just got from the farm,” explains Ben.
They begin by butchering a half pig from Gibson Family Farms down the loin, and putting it in their aging fridge set between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and 75 to 80% humidity. After four weeks, the color and texture of the meat changes from bright pink to dark red, the loin weighs two pounds less due to a loss of moisture content, and the meat has also pulled away from the bone.
The two compare a fresh piece of pork tenderloin to the dry-aged one, cooking both in butter, garlic, and thyme. For both pieces, they render out the fat and fry it on both sides on medium high heat, and then crank it up to sear. When it comes time for the taste test, they both conclude that the fresh pork tastes simple and clean. When they taste the dry-aged one, they are amazed at how “porky,” it tastes, with fat that melts in their mouths.
“It’s really just a more intensified version of our control,” says Brent. “It’s supremely juicy and supremely tender just because of the dry age. We just gave the pork the time it needed to reach the apex of what it can be.”