The SteakAger: Is It Worth It?
I must admit that I have a love affair with steak, especially when it’s dry aged. I have been to some of the best steakhouses in NYC and I know that dinner in a quality steakhouse here can easily cost in excess of $200+ for two people. So I usually reserve a trip to this type of restaurant for special occasions only. The reason why these places are so expensive: dry aged steak. (plus, this is NYC)
Most beef that is purchased in your local market is wet aged. In this process, meat is vacuum sealed and refrigerated for up to a few weeks, before being sold. The flavor of beef naturally improves with aging so you would not normally eat “fresh” beef. Dry aging beef is a method that high quality steakhouses and butchers use, which produces a superior intense beefy flavor. The reason why it’s so costly is because of the process it takes to age it. Also the yield you end up with after dry aging meat is significantly less than what you start with. This means the restaurant has to transfer this up-charge to the customer in order to turn a profit. At my local butcher, a 20 oz dry aged rib eye steak can easily cost $30-40 per steak, so even going this route can be very pricey. Then last year I discovered the Kingsford™ SteakAger.
THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN UPDATED AS OF February 2020 (scroll to bottom of the page)
The idea of preparing my own dry aged steak without using a DIY type of device was intriguing. A friend of mine, Chef Eric Eisenbud , who was at the time, the executive chef and spokesman for the SteakAger brand, was a veteran at aging steak using this device. Now he runs The Grateful Chef and he and I have teamed up to cook on a couple of occasions, one of them being a Facebook “live”collaboration (Video Removed by Kingsford) in promotion of my book Mastering the Art of Sous Vide Cooking, and the Kingsford™ SteakAger. We also teamed up to do a pop-up dinner at his home that you can view HERE . Chef Eric explained to me the ins and outs of dry aging your own steaks, also he informed me how much money you can save by doing so. There are 4 different sized machines to choose from: The original SteakAger, Master 15, Master 30, and Master 45. I purchased the Master 15 which holds up to 15lbs of meat, it is the smaller device but this will be strictly for my personal use.
I pre-ordered the SteakAger in August 2018 as a birthday present to myself, the shipping date was October 15, 2018. Then apparently the company had a shipping issue and all orders were pushed back one month until November. Then the orders were pushed back until December. Then many folks received their devices with multiple manufacturer defects which caused some people to ruin expensive pieces of beef. In my case, to make matters worse, UPS delivered my machine to the wrong address 3 times in December before they got it right. When I finally received the SteakAger in January, it was totaled from so much postal handling. Not that this mattered, in fact, because the machine was defective it needed to be replaced with the proper updates regardless. I did not receive my unit until February, six months after my original order.
Now on to the good…
During the difficult time I had receiving this machine, customer service was very responsive and helpful to all of my inquiries and concerns. The founder of the SteakAger reached out and informed me to get rid of the wrecked device, and he also assured me they would send me the updated machine ASAP. It arrived packed very nicely to avoid a shipping disaster like the first time. Once I received the new machine, I immediately wanted to get a slab of beef into it to start aging. With some of the problems previously reported with the 1st generation machine, I was a little leery to drop big money on an expensive sub-primal cut of meat, but I found a very good sale on top sirloin (not my favorite cut) at my local market. I purchased a 14 lb cut and I was off to the races… The meat was a perfect fit for the device and I was going to shoot for 45 days, but due to my desperation to finally taste the results, I only aged it for 28 days. The product worked very well throughout the process. The only issue I had was with the app which can be used to monitor time and temp, in my opinion it was totally useless at the time.
Back to the bad…
(Not worth it, as explained below) My patience paid off for a short period of time, the device did a great job and produced restaurant quality dry aged sirloin. As expected, I did lose about a 5 lbs during the drying/carving process. But the good news is since the Kingsford™ SteakAger uses UV technology to destroy pathogens, the “pellicle”, which is the crust that forms around the steak during aging is edible. I was able to use the pellicle along with some roasted beef bones to produce the most intense beef stock I’ve ever prepared. This was entirely worth the wait, and I already have started another dry aging cycle. But this success was short lived…
UPDATE: In July 2019, 6 months after receiving the Kingsford Steakager, the UV light blew out midway through a dry age cycle as I was processing an expensive cut of Waygu brisket. While I was able to finish out the cycle problem free, I have not tried to age another for fear of losing a cut of beef to possible spoilage. I reached out to SteakAger customer service about this problem more than a few times over the months that followed and received not one piece of advice nor a response as of February 2020. A visit to their website revealed that they no longer have the the licensing to use the Kingsford™ name and they also released a new line of devices. Great move by Kingsford!
Just like many of their frustrated past customers,many of them that lost a lot of money on ruined beef and defective devices, I have now washed my hands with trying to contact them and accepted this as a loss. I guess because they had another generation of devices set to hit the market, they moved on from old customers that were shammed into buying this device. It feels as if I purchased an expensive mini fridge that I did not need. What is more ironic, the SteakAger folks have used this review on their website for the past 7 months as a testimonial for their device, even after they ignored my all of my inquiries on how to resolve my UV light problem. The testimonial was only removed in Feb 2020 after this update on their CS practices. THE VERDICT: I would avoid purchasing from The SteakAger or any other company that does not respect the value of your hard earned dollar or does not give a hoot about the value of good customer service.
You can purchase your copy of Mastering the Art of Sous Vide Cooking at these fine retailers:
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, Books A Million, IndieBound, Book Depository, Google Play, Costco
Posted on March 18, 2019, in Beef, Is it worth it? and tagged beef stock, Chef Justice Stewart, Dry aged beef, facebook live, Kingsford SteakAger, mastering the art of sous vide cooking, steakhouse. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.