Has anyone else tried drying their own meat the way fancy steakhouses do?
I experimented with "dry-aging" my own beef by storing it uncovered and on rack in the refrigerator. I left a ribeye roast alone for a week, during which it turned a dark purple and gained a hard "crust." I sliced off a thick steak, trimmed the crust away, and pan-roasted it -- it was delicious, although it shrunk more than I'm used to, presumably because it had a reduced water content, though it was certainly still juicy. I cut a series of steaks this way, every other day or so, until the roast was gone, and each was great. I did notice that the meat got progressively lighter in weight, and there was a noticeable "gamy" (but not rotten) smell in the refrigerator for the duration. So I happily ate unfrozen, unwrapped meat that was at least a couple of weeks old, with no dire results.
Was I risking food-poisoning? Assuming the answer is no, does anyone know how long I could have safely kept this up? Do steakhouses have a special environment in which to do this?
I am no expert in dry-aging beef -- but have noticed that gourmet butchers do use sterile refrigerators with are carefully controlled for air flow, humidity, and temperature. i.e. special environment.
I generally dry age beef for better flavour. I think I first heard about it from Alton Brown and roughly use his technique: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/dry-aged-chimney-porterhouse-recipe/index.html
But I haven't left it more than a few days. Certainly others do dry aging for much longer periods: http://steamykitchen.com/6626-review-how-to-dry-age-steaks-with-drybag.html
Look on a zero-carb forum - I recall seeing a lot of talk about dry-aging beef at home. Probably it was zeroinginonhealth.com
If that's all you're eating, it's probably easier to do as there's nothing else in the fridge, and a fair number of those folks eat nothing but beef.
I have dry aged beef and dry aged to make jerky for pemmican in my refrigerator on a rack in a manner similar to the one you described. I have left meat in there for 3-4 weeks on occasion with no off smell or taste. Just beautiful flavor. I understand that if you get a white mold crust you can just cut it off. I didn't have a mold problem though.
I dry-age a little, but mostly I air-dry. Dry-ageing takes weeks, so if I have a big slab and just cut off it as I eat, the end might be aged. Usually I air-dry the individual steaks so both sides are dry. I find it tastes best at about 4 days.
It's definitely safe, though you might want to cut the edges off. I think dry-ageing takes 3-8 weeks. Restaurants sometimes have huge refrigerated rooms for this purpose.