What is the Añojo cutlet and how to prepare it?
The añojo cutlet, also known as Dry Aged old cow, is a cut of beef that can be bought whole, but is usually sold in cuts weighing approximately one kilo or one and a half kilos. Why is it called añojo cutlet or old beef cutlet?
Characteristics of the old beef cutlet
What distinguishes this cut of meat from the rest is its maturation time. A veal cut is not the same as a cut from an old cow; the main characteristic of the old cow is that the maturation of the cut can vary between 30 and 70 days, depending on your choice.
The unique flavor of this cut is not only attributed to the maturation time, but also to the type of breeding, care and feed that the cows receive. This makes a high quality meat with a great taste. These are cows that usually graze on large extensions of land.
How is the añojo cutlet matured?
In order for a cutlet steak to be considered an old cow steak, it must have a specific maturation time; in addition, this process must be very meticulous and careful. The technique of aging the steak is known as Dry Aging. Through this technique, experts monitor the temperature and humidity of the meat: it must be very well controlled.
Moreover, the steaks are housed in special chambers that follow strict quality control. And which part is the cutlet? It all depends on where you buy the cut, but it is usually taken from the beef loin, because it is a part of the animal that is distinguished by its fat infiltration and its marbled appearance.
Thanks to the Dry Aged process, the texture of the old beef T-bone steak is much smoother, its flavor is more intense, the cut is much juicier and its aroma is exquisite. This is largely due to the fact that during Dry Aging, the moisture in the cut evaporates; when this happens, the enzymes present in the meat come into action. If you buy a flank cut of beef, for example, or a traditional T-bone steak, you will find a delicious meat, but with a tough texture if you do not know how to prepare it. This does not happen with an old cow cutlet!
During the maturation process, the steak becomes coated with mold over the days. The mold, contrary to what you may think, only serves to enhance the flavor and makes the meat much softer. Of course, when you buy the steak, you will not find mold anywhere, because the butcher will clean it perfectly so that you can eat it.
Tips for preparing old beef cutlet
A meat with these characteristics does not require extensive cooking preparations. Remember that sometimes, less is more and the aged cutlet does not need a lot of seasoning. There are many ways to prepare it! The secret lies in knowing how to give it the ideal flavor.
Remember that all cuts of meat, whether beef or pork, should be at room temperature at the time of cooking. If you take the meat directly from the refrigerator to the grill, the cut will be done on the outside, but on the inside it will be cold and/or undercooked. In the case of aged pork cutlets, the meat will be tougher.
Let it breathe
It is usual to buy meat packaged or in a bag. When you take it out of the refrigerator and before cooking, take it out of its packaging. The steak will thank you for it. The time for both room temperature and for the steak to breathe depends on the temperature where you are. In summer, less than two hours is enough. In winter, you may need up to two hours.
High or low heat?
The secret of a good old beef chop is to put it on the grill or embers when the flames have gone down. Start by building a strong and intense fire and then, when the coals start to burn and are strong enough, spread them out so that the accumulated heat can escape and then lower the coals. Only then can you place the steak on the grill.
This step is important. The steak should be placed on the grill at a height of approximately 15 centimeters, never place it too close to the coals! However, be careful not to place it too far away.
The type of coals
Many people use charcoal to prepare the steak, but keep in mind that whatever you use will give a unique flavor to the cut. You can use wood, which will logically give a woody flavor to the meat; don't hesitate to choose between different types of wood: chestnut, apple, etc.
You can also use pellets. It all depends on your preferences and what your grill can handle.
When should you season a cutlet?
Old beef cutlet doesn't need much preparation. Coarse salt is all you need to make it unique. The best way to add salt is to place the steak on one side and, when you are about to turn it over, sprinkle the salt on the side that is already browned. Do this again when turning the steak.
The cooking time depends on the thickness of the steak and the doneness of the meat, but also on its weight. If the steak weighs one kilo, you will only need about five minutes for it to be ready. Keep in mind that this time will depend on your preferences.