Monday, September 26, 2011

Hill Country: Dry Aged Barbecue

Dry Aged Barbecue
I am not sure what this says about the economy but Hill Country was running a special on Saturday night offering a 30 day dry aged USDA Prime grade prime rib that they smoke alongside their wonderful brisket, ribs and sausages. Either Hill Country's butcher is having a fire sale on their prime dry aged beef (which seems highly unlikely considering how expensive and scarce prime beef is these days) or steakhouses continue to suffer and lose market share to cheaper alternatives. Before the crash in 2008 it would have seemed inconceivable that beef this good would be served at a barbecue joint, there was just far too much demand from high end steakhouses.
That Hill Country is selling it might just mean that there is less demand from the high end of the market. At $49 a pound the beef is not cheap, especially compared to the rest of the menu, but it is fairly priced considering its quality. A similarly sized prime rib at a chophouse would cost about the same, but of course you would get white table cloth service and a proper wine list. Still, if you like dry aged beef Hill Country's prime rib is hard to argue with.

I worried that the flavor of the dry aging would be masked by the dense smoke from post oak and the heavy salt and pepper rub that Hill Country applies to the rest of their beef. But thankfully neither proved to be the case. The seasoning was judicious and the unmistakable tang of dry aging came roaring through. I was actually surprised at its intensity, especially along the crust outer band of the spinalis dorsi - the muscle that caps the eye.

The eye was pleasingly tender, if a bit over cooked for my taste. Foolishly I let the cut languish underneath a mountain of brisket and beef ribs (both superb by the way), wrapped in wax paper and it got heated up. If you like your beef on the rarer side ask them to leave it unwrapped.

I am not sure how often Hill Country offer the cut as a special but it is well worth your time and money.

Hill Country 30 West 26th New York, NY 10010 Tel:(212) 255-4544

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