It can be difficult to find high-quality meat in Fairfield County, CT, and particularly in the Newtown area. It’s even harder to find a butcher shop that carries dry-aged steaks. At Butcher’s Best we dry-age beef in-house — a process that is typically reserved for high-end steakhouses in Manhattan and Fairfield County. Furthermore, we use Himalayan salt aging to get even better results. Why do we dry-age? We’re committed to providing the most flavorful, natural meats and foods for our customers.

The first thing to know is that dry aging results in steaks with an extraordinary depth of flavor and increased tenderness. The process starts by resting the steaks in a controlled environment. This is typically a special case, set at a low temperature, designed specifically for dry-aging. Depending on the purveyor, meat can be aged from several weeks to several months.

As the steaks rest, enzymes that are naturally present in the meat’s muscle cells begin to break down the proteins, fats, and glycogen into amino acids, fatty acids, and sugars. One of the most flavorful amino acids produced is glutamate. Others provide sweet and savory flavor components. In addition to adding flavor, dry-aging also tenderizes the meat as the enzymes break down some of the tougher muscle fiber and connective tissue.

As the meat ages, it loses some of its moisture — between 30% and 50%. Steaks start out with about 75% water content. The reduced moisture, along with the enzyme process, helps to concentrate the flavor. The reduction in weight is the main reason why this type of steak will be priced higher.

At Butcher’s Best we take dry-aging one step further in the quest to provide the most flavorful meat. We employ the process of salt aging. Inside our dry-age case we have special-cut, large Himalayan salt bricks. The salt draws moisture from the air and meat. This not only inhibits the growth of bacteria, but also adds a unique sweet flavor.

Of course all of our meats, including pork, chicken, and steak, are high quality and all natural. They do not contain antibiotics or growth hormones. And we locally source high- and premium-grade meats from local farms. Our pork comes from a local farm in Oxford, CT, for example. And our beef is Certified Black Angus. This is a special designation dictated by how the animal is raised. They need to have a certain genetic makeup and they are fed a high-quality diet. Only 1% of cattle are considered high-grade choice. We then butcher in-house using old-world techniques that result in a better cut every time.

It’s hard to imagine finding a better cut of meat than the selection in our butcher shop case. However, if you decide to treat yourself to a dry-age steak, you’ll understand what all the fuss is about.