Thursday, May 17, 2012

New steak "discovered," named after Las Vegas

The Drovers Cattle Network reports on a big unveiling that happened at last month's "Protein Innovation Summit" in Chicago: The world's newest cut of beef.

Called The Vegas Strip Steak, it got the cattlemen pretty excited. But the way they talk about meat is pretty unappetizing, even to a steak fan like me:
With more than 30 years of beef carcass research and development, Mata, the self-proclaimed Meat Geek, approached Nelson and Oklahoma State University’s FAPC with the possibility of a new beef carcass cut. 
Seriously. PETA couldn't ask for better framing than the repeated use of "carcass" when talking about what is supposed to be an appetizing food. But then again, the whole idea of "Protein Innovation" makes me think more of pink slime than of wholesome meat dishes.

The actual muscle used is still under wraps, as the innovators are hoping to win a patent on the cut.

But it looks like this:

That picture is from the cut's promotional site, which states:

There’s nothing else quite like steak and it epitomizes the pleasure of eating beef. That’s what prompted a meat scientist, a chef and a university to team up to find a new steak, saving an undervalued muscle from the fate of the grinder and moving it to a far more valuable place – the center of the plate. 
In economically squeezed times, restaurants are looking for high quality at lower costs. It took the passion and innovation of our dedicated team to find a steak to fit that need.
So it's basically something that would otherwise end up as "trim" — which is where hamburger comes from. But how has this cut not been found before?

There are a couple of things that make me wonder:

First, look at this quote:
“The Vegas Strip Steak is the latest and perhaps last steak to be found from the beef carcass,” said Jacob Nelson, Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center value-added meat processing specialist. 
"Value-added meat processing"? There's another thing that makes me think of pink slime. Could just be their shop talk, though.

Second, they keep referring to the steak as "fabricated":

“This steak can be fabricated from 4 ounces to 12 ounces,” Nelson said. “Versatility of this steak allows it to be utilized across a wide range of food service sectors.” 
 "...two suppliers are fabricating the cut and interested parties can be licensed to use the cut."
“Given the history of the beef industry, the discovery of a new beef steak that has never before been fabricated and marketed could appear to be an impossibility,” 

Once again, this could just be industry jargon. But the "impossibility" part also raised my curiosity.

As well promoters boast that the steak is "super tender" and "requires no aging". How is it that such an amazing cut of meat has never before been discovered by generations of butchers?

Is it possible that this steak isn't a solid cut at all, but reformed meat?

You see, the process of gluing together pieces on meat from the same (or different animals) using transglutaminase and beef fibrin to make larger cuts has been under media scrutiny of late.

Says Reuters:

The U.S. Agriculture Department says the enzymes, which are also used in imitation crabmeat and some pasta and dairy products, must be listed on the ingredient label of anything containing them. 
But because most meat containing the enzymes is sold to the food service industry, critics say few consumers know they're eating them. 
Critics have also suggested the enzymes, which are derived from beef plasma and other sources, could be used to deceive consumers by turning smaller, inexpensive cuts of meat into what appear to be premium cuts.
Note that the Vegas Strip Steak is being promoted directly to the service industry.

I don't really have time to delve further into this miracle meat discovery. But I sure will be watching how it unfolds.


  1. this isn't one of those 'glued together' meats, is it? like gluing together cheaper cuts to make a much more expensive filet mignon?


  2. If it is fake, then naming it after Las Vegas is inspired :)

  3. oh, yes - the naming inspiration is great. where it comes from - which part(s) - that is the mystery. more here:

    actually, not all that inspired? there is the 'new york strip steak', so this vegas one sounds like a take off of that.