The Federal, the Midtown restaurant from chefs Shaun Doty and Lance Gummere, is expanding its repertoire of steakhouse traditions by introducing certified black Angus steaks that have been aged for a whopping 50 days. Doty worked with Buckhead Beef to develop the limited edition cut.” When I proposed doing the 50-day, no one had ever asked them [to create that] before,” he told me. “Most restaurants dry age their beef for an average of 28 days,” Doty said in a press release. The aging evaporates moisture, which concentrates the flavor. “Our 50-day dry-aged steaks are going to have even more intense flavor.”
So how is this aging process different from others? “When we look at aging, you’ve got two different kinds of techniques: Wet age and dry age,” BJ Johnson, certified Angus beef specialist at Sysco and Doty’s point person at Buckhead Beef, explained over the phone. “A wet age is done in an anaerobic environment, so in a cryovac. We let that sit traditionally 28-35 days, and an enzymatic breakdown tenderizes the muscle.”
“When we do a dry age,” Johnson explained, “We break that anaerobic environment. We’re controlling time, temperature, and air. We allow that muscle to dehydrate, so you’re adding tenderness, but you’re also intensifying flavor through the aging process.”
Johnson says he has seen a “resurgence” of dry aging in the industry. “The cool thing about dry aging: It’s a lot like cheese in the sense sense that different regions have different flavor profiles. It’s all about the bacteria that’s in the air.”
According to Johnson, the industry average for dry-aging is 21-28 days, but Doty wanted to push it further to achieve a signature flavor profile that mimicked an “old-world artisanal technique of aging products to get an intense, nutty, beefy flavor.” Doty then cooks the aged Manhattan strip steak in cast iron to give it a nice crust.
“I’m doing it because I enjoy continuing to learn,” says Doty. “There is a lot to learn about the beef business. I probably know more about the origins of the cheeses of the Haute Savoie then I do about the traditions of American cattle ranching. And that’s pretty ironic considering I’m [from Oklahoma.]” Doty says he plans to keep the steak, which he calls a “bucket list thing,” on the menu in limited quantities of 16-20 steaks per week for the near future. The 16-ounce Manhattan strip steak costs $68 and can be reserved prior to your visit.