Noble Rot

Written by Keen Azariah Category: Lifestyle Issue: June 2014
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Making a perfect steak with one of the Valley’s leading practitioners of dry-aging.

Before witnessing chef Admir Alibasic’s crash course in the science of dry-aging beef, you might find little in common between the terms “great steak” and “deteriorating meat.” If so, the New York native will happily enlighten you. Popular in East Coast steakhouses but less so out west, dry-aging concentrates flavor and refines texture by letting a piece of beef, well, go slightly bad. At Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse in Scottsdale – one of a handful of Valley restaurants that dry-ages in-house – Alibasic offers a variety of delectable dry-aged creations, from a generous 22 oz. steak suitable for one to a monstrous 88 oz. steak for four – suitable for flipping over Fred Flintstone’s car. Here’s a step-by-step look at the long journey from pasture to plate that ends with Alibasic’s dry-aged steaks.

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1. Choose beef cuts with high fat marbleization, like rib-eyes and strip steaks.

2. Place the meat in the aging box. Under strictly controlled temperatures (between 32 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity levels (around 60 to 70 percent), the cuts rest here for a month up to 140 days.

During this time, enzymes in the muscle cells break down proteins into amino acids (creating umami and nut-like flavors), convert carbohydrates into sugars (making the meat sweeter) and weaken connective tissue in the meat (making it more tender). Meanwhile, the beef dehydrates and friendly molds flourish on its surface.


PHM 800x800 FPO3. The beef is removed and cut into smaller subprimal cuts, releasing the meat’s new, nutty aroma. Excess fat is trimmed, leaving only enough to add flavor.

4. After a sprinkling of kosher salt, the newly cut steak enters a 2,000 degree broiler, and is cooked until the surface is a caramelized brown.

5. The steak is removed and given a five-minute breather before it’s placed onto a plate capable of withstanding 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Both steak and plate are placed back into the broiler at 2,000 degrees. The plate is rotated while cooking to provide even temperature throughout the pieces. After cutting, arranging and garnishing, this artfully deteriorated delicacy is ready to serve.

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Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse
4180 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale