Tag Archives: dry-age

King Solomon Foods

King Solomon Foods is a family owned wholesale meat operation that’s been in business in Brooklyn since 1938, making them one of the oldest wholesalers to distribute in the city. They serve restaurants, supermarkets, country clubs, delis, you name it… from all over New York City to all the way out in eastern Long Island. Even some of the biggest named steakhouses in the area get beef from King Solomon Foods. These were all going to Peter Luger’s.

Here – take a closer look at some of these beauties:

In addition to Luger’s, they’ve also supplied places like Ben & Jacks, Old Homestead and Primal Cut in Manhattan. Some places even hand pick their meat in the facility.

Last weekend, Grant Siegel, Vice President of Sales, gave me a tour of the King Solomon facility, which is located on the water in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Grant represents five generations of the family business. As a former college football athlete from Colgate, his competitive nature is an asset to the company. He’s young, just 23, and he’s aggressively marketing and selling their high quality meats with the goal of making King Solomon a transcendental force in the game.

There’s no quit in him. He’s up at 3:00am every day and working until 9:00pm, and even putting in weekend time, as he was there showing me the facilities on his “day off.”

You probably noticed that massive slab of beef hanging behind us there in that last photo. Here it is all by itself:

Not many purveyors in the city are getting fresh carcasses like this anymore. There are maybe four of them. Most places are bringing in boxed beef and then further portioning that out for their customers.

One very important thing I learned from Grant on this visit was how much of a difference a fresh carcass makes in the final product for consumers. Take a look at this photo:

Both short loins had been aged for eight days at the time. The one on the right was cut by King Somolon’s butchers directly from a fresh carcass, right there on premises. The one on the left is boxed beef. Boxed beef comes off the fabrication floor at slaughterhouses and is then sealed up in bags and sent out to distributors in boxes. Distributors then break the beef down further depending on what their customers want (restaurants, delis, catering halls, etc). The difference in color and fat quality is staggering. The fresh beef will have a much better flavor from the aging process. But I was blown away by how dark and aged it looked after just eight days.

Speaking of dry aging, take a look at this nice room. Lots of good spacing and great air flow. To me, this is a treasure trove, and it’s probably worth about $100,000!

As the business continues to grow, Grant says that they plan to open up a second, much larger dry aging room off the back of the facility. Take a look at some of the beautiful pieces that were aging when I was there:

Grant personally doesn’t like to push the aging past 28 days, but here is a rack of 50-day dry aged ribs:

Almost everything I saw was stamped as Prime, and the smell of these short loins, especially the ones that were cut from fresh carcasses, was amazing.

But short loins and rib racks aren’t all they supply, despite the fact that they’re cutting between 500 and 600 steaks a day. There’s lamb, veal, and tons of other cuts of beef. Watch:

More pics:

There’s a Kosher division, and they even grind their own burgers from trim. There are several different blends that they market. They do dry aged burgers, a “Brooklyn” burger (the official burger of the Verizon Center), a “King Solomon” burger, and a very popular chuck, brisket and short rib blend.

Additionally, a huge part of their business comes from poultry sales. King Solomon Foods moves about 250,000 pounds of chicken a week!

They are a direct receiver of chicken, so as a wholesaler that means their prices are extremely competitive. Bell & Evans, Purdue, Allen, you name it.

The business is already highly diversified. But Grant is looking to make this place a one stop shop, as they’re even supplying things like cheese, produce, turkey, seafood and sausage. For Grant, meat is a passion. It’s in his blood, and running this business was his dream. He’s always looking to take advantage of new technologies, study what’s available, and assess new business opportunities. He has the keys to the castle, so to speak. With youth and hustle on his side, he’s integrating a new mindset into an old school industry.

And he isn’t the only young blood in the family running things. His cousin, Zack Solomon, is the Executive Vice President of the company. He’s 29, and handles the day to day logistics and operations. Together, they represent the future of a business that runs five generations deep. That’s pretty exciting.

What’s even more exciting is that they sent me home with some really high-marbled, 28-day dry-aged strip steaks to try. Keep an eye out for some cooking videos and photos of these babies.

 

UMAi Dry

UMAi Dry contacted me a few weeks back about their dry aging bags. I was intrigued by some of their promotional materials and video demos, so I told them to send me some samples to try out at home. I already had the sealer for use with my DIY sous vide machine, with which I made some kickass steaks.

Usually when I think about the aging process for steaks, I get overwhelmed and think I could never do it. This is something I should leave to the professionals. I worry about mold, bacteria, rancid meat, wasting money on failed attempts, etc. But with UMAi Dry this otherwise daunting task is boiled down to a super simple procedure. Essentially you just pop a hunk of beef in their special vacuum seal bags, put it in your fridge, and wait 35 days.

So I received my sample bags and ran out to the store to buy a nice rib roast, which I would later parse out into rib eye steaks after the aging is completed. NYC grocery stores don’t really have massive slabs of rib roasts sitting in the fridge section, so I had to ask the butcher what he had. He went to work for me, giving me a section of rib eyes with about four or five bones intact.

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I was a bit freaked when I saw the price tag on this fucker. The butcher told me that the beef was prime, but that he only charged me for choice.

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I guess that’s a good deal (several dollars per pound cheaper). But still… at $225 it could turn out to be a really fucking expensive mistake if I fuck anything up.

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On the other hand, if this nearly 11lb hunk of prime rib eye ages nicely for 35 days, I could end up with several high quality rib eyes that would save me money on steakhouse dinners in the long run.

I took the gamble. I probably should have waited for a sale or something, but I was too excited to get started. About 30 minutes later I was starting the process of bagging and sealing.

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I put some wax paper across the bones so that any sharp bits wouldn’t puncture or slice open the bag.

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Meat condom:

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Once sealed properly, it just goes into the fridge on a cookie rack or drying rack, so that air flow goes all around the bag.

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Then we just wait 35 days, with an occasional flip here and there. Here’s a pair of shots after 5 days with a flip. As you can see, the meat is already starting to darken and dry where the bag is in contact with the flesh.

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Even darker after another week. It’s forming a “bark”-like layer of beneficial mold that helps to tenderize the meat as it develops.

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And another week or so. I notice it’s also shrinking. Dry-aging processes tend to cause the meat to desiccate to the point where you can lose almost a third of the original weight.

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After 35 days, here is the unwrapping!

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The outside bark, which has the texture of really hard beef jerky, needs to be sliced off of the underlying softened meat, and the tough skin membrane over the ribs needs to be peeled and picked off.

It’s an arduous task, but the end product is totally worth the effort. Here are some shots that my wife snapped of the slicing, trimming and portioning process.

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The inside is so gorgeous. This shot looks like angel wings:

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A great looking fat cap was still intact. I was worried that I would have to carve off too much of that, but we did pretty good.

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I’ve saved all the bark slices to use in making another beef stock or broth at a later date.

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I ended up with two thinner boneless cuts, so I seasoned them up right away and seared them off in a cast iron skillet with some butter, garlic and onions (I cut one to fit them in the pan better).

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The result was awesome. Perfectly cooked, super flavorful and really well worth the wait! The fat was entirely edible. Very soft and buttery, like beef jelly.

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Those were just a couple of small boneless cuts. This cowboy chop was pretty incredible:

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Now I’m wondering if I should try this again and just leave the shit in the fridge for several months. The flavor was great on this stuff. It had a nice earthy smell; a well-endowed scent of mushroom or truffle, with a slight hint of blue cheese. Like heaven.

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If you’re adventurous with home meal prep, I highly recommend this easy-to-use product. I think I still have a few extra bags, so the next time I have a little extra fat in my bank, I might go in for another dry-aging experiment: maybe strip loin next time.

Final note: if your fridge is generally full, but you still want to age beef at home, I suggest getting a mini fridge, or a smaller dedicated separate fridge, just for beef. Put your temperature setting to about 35 degrees, and get a fan in there somehow to circulate the air. Always keep the beef elevated off the surface on a baking rack or something, too.  No special aging bags necessary.