Friday, May 23, 2014

Dry Aged Pork??

 Just over two months ago we started an interesting project in class, dry aged pork. My meat class teaching assistant, Dan Erne, and I took the loin of a locally raised hog and left the skin and fatback on the outside, placed it on a rack and left it next to the beef rib we were aging. The temp was about 35 -37F in about 70-80% humidity. Being on the top shelf, in front of the blower fan, allowed for good airflow and we also slathered a little rendered lard on the ends. We let it sit for 30 days and did a tasting for the class, then again at about 60 days. It was simply pan-seared with a little salt and pepper. The idea was to allow my students to really taste it without a sauce distracting. The flavor was certainly richer and full with slight undertones of that same distinct flavor that is dry aged beef. The older one started to get a little strong or musty in flavor. The result, in general, was that pork can be dry aged to improve taste.
 There are some things to consider when dry aging pork, the pork needs to be very fresh when starting. The preferred is from a whole carcass that you are breaking down but if you want to age vacuum packaged pork it needs to be as fresh as possible. The second thing is to have the skin on and any extra exterior fat. Again buying a half hog and breaking down guarantees a skin cover so if you were to age packaged pork the only choices would be either the ham or picnic. The loin is not sold skin-on commercially by any large producers.
 My nephew raises a few, various heritage breed hogs and we slaughter them in the late fall and he has a small walk-in cooler that we hang them in. We cut two of the hogs about a week later and the pork was very very good but a third hog hung for well over three weeks. This pork was outstanding.The flavor was like no other pork I've had.
 Aging pork is probably best at about 3 - 4 weeks and the fattier the pork, the better the result. A thick cut chop is guaranteed to be, by far, the best way to eat a grilled chop.