Between skyrocketing beef prices and a rapidly shifting beef export market, you'd think there would be something to be alarmed about.
But both meat processors and foodservice operators are staring right into a new opportunity with a new steak cut that was unveiled April 18 for the first time exclusively at the Protein Innovation Summit.
It's been named the Vegas Strip steak, it's comparable in tenderness to the New York Strip, and it's easier to fabricate than the Flat Iron.
For a full immersion into all aspects of this latest steak - as well as an analysis of the evoluion of steak in America - explore our multimedia coverage below.
(Originally posted April 18, 2012)
The muscles from the round are easier to fabricate and offer higher yields than the chuck. But it’s the front of the animal that consultant Tony Mata set his sights on two years ago when he set out to discover a way to fabricate part of the chuck. Historically, nearly all the muscle — which is neither part of the chuck roll nor the clod — has been ground, making its way into further-processed products from hamburgers to meatballs. (Meatingplace did not name the muscle because the developers have declined to identify it publicly due to a patent pending.)
The development didn’t happen overnight, though. “I’ve looked at a variety of muscles, but they didn’t work,” Mata said of the decision to hone in on this muscle. “With this one I failed several times, but I kept coming back to it. I just love really exploring that carcass.” Now the steak’s developers hope to elevate it on the center of the plate.
“Whenever we can take a muscle and turn it into a steak rather than grinding it or selling it as a roast, we are adding value to the carcass — and everybody from the farm to the table eventually benefits,” Mata said. “In the mid-80s, the industry recognized that they had ignored applying the culinary art to the product development process. Most R&D departments had meat scientists in charge of the entire process, and by and large, food scientists are lousy cooks,” Mata added.
It's compatible with current manufacturing practices, and so far three processors have expressed interest in fabricating and distributing the product.
“When I began looking at this steak as being feasible, I reached out to (Executive Chef) Rick (Gresh), who was very receptive to looking at the shapes and the forms, and he has provided great guidance and his expertise on portion size and different ways to cooking it.”
Fits with changing business models
The timing of its introduction is more than fortuitous. It comes at a time when foodservice operators are employing a new business model that translates into charging more per ounce while reducing the ounces on the plate — all while providing better margins for the processor.
Since the Flat Iron steak was introduced more than a decade ago, demand for end meats has continued strong.
Gresh, executive chef at David Burke’s Primehouse at the James Hotel, who consulted with Mata. At times the flat iron sells above the New York strip — and that’s promising for the Vegas Strip steak.
“There are other cuts — such as this Vegas Strip steak — that likely are to outperform (the Flat Iron),” Gresh said of the latest cut’s taste and tenderness. But it also is ideal for the lunch crowd. “A couple of quick cuts, and it’s in and out of the pan in a couple of minutes. It’s just a minute or two longer than searing a scallop.”
But is it “the last steak”?
“I’m pretty certain this is the last steak that will have real implications in the industry,” Jacob Nelson, meat processing specialist at the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center at Oklahoma State University and Mata’s partner in the development of the steak, told Meatingplace. “There might be other muscles you can extract and present as steaks, but there probably will not be demand for them in the marketplace, and they won’t have the characteristics like this one. This has real-world applications.”
Additional daily news coverage
"When it comes to patents on meat cuts, financial rewards are rare" (May 17, 2012)