University of Nevada meat professor finds new cut of steak – Bonanza – between ribs
September 4, 2016
The beef industry has been blessed with another proverbial diamond in the rough. A newly discovered, high-quality cut of beef might be about as valuable as the sparkly stone.
Consumers, producers and restaurants alike can look forward to a delectable treat in the Bonanza Cut. The Bonanza Cut is being described as "melting in your mouth" and "outclassing any other cut except filet mignon" and was previously being used for hamburger.
Amilton de Mello, assistant professor of meat science, began his research on the m. infraspinatus caudal tip (the very far end of the flat iron steak) in 2014. His research objectives were to evaluate sensory attributes and cooking yields and discover the opportunity of developing this new cut as a value-added product. Research has shown the Bonanza Cut has enhanced tenderness and juiciness due to superior marbling and higher fat content.
"This meat cut comes from the rib and is a very small cut weighing only 0.5 pounds. When you break the carcass between the fifth and sixth rib, this small piece of meat stays on the top of the rib. Instead of using it for hamburger, we could be exporting this cut as a steak," stated de Mello. When the meat is used for ground beef, it currently brings $1.90 per pound, whereas when used as a steak, de Mello estimates it could be sold for approximately $5.30 per pound (depending on the market). This would add millions of dollars of revenue to the beef community.
“This meat cut comes from the rib and is a very small cut weighing only 0.5 pounds. When you break the carcass between the fifth and sixth rib, this small piece of meat stays on the top of the rib. Instead of using it for hamburger, we could be exporting this cut as a steak. Amilton de Mello, meat science and food safety program leader at University of Nevada, Reno
Dr. de Mello is the Meat Science and Food Safety Program Leader for the University of Nevada, Reno. He began working at the University in 2015 and his research program focuses on "from farm to table" stages including microbiology, animal nutrition, animal handling, harvest, fabrication and processing. His knowledge of beef and the beef industry is clearly beneficial and allows him to identify where discoveries and improvements can be made. He is adamant that there are no new cuts of beef, only rediscovered and re-innovated cuts of beef. He said, "Everything in the animal, the industry uses already."
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While working in the packing plant, Dr. de Mello along with his colleaugues noticed this particular cut. He thought it looked worthwhile to explore so he took it home, grilled it and realized it was different than the Flat Iron Steak. He wanted to discover why it was different but he wasn't in a research position at the time. He suggested sending it to Asia since those countries demand high-marbled meats and this cut of beef surpasses all others in fat content.
Fast-forward to 2015, de Mello decided he wanted to get back to academia and research and started work in his current position at the University of Nevada, Reno. In Nevada, he wrote a proposal and earned a grant from JBS, giving him the opportunity to explore the meat science of caudal tip of the muscle infraspinatus (Flat Iron Steak). Upon further study he found that the Bonanza Cut has twice the fat as a Flat Iron Steak because of its anatomic position on the beef. This explains the extreme tenderness and taste of the steak.
Large meat processors are most likely to utilize this redeveloped cut of beef since they have to capability and capacity to collect large quantities of this low volume cut of beef and market to consumers. Utilizing this cut will be of no extra cost or labor to the processor, de Mello said. Smaller processors may want to explore cutting and selling this extraordinary piece of meat. It is possible for local butchers and restaurants to use this high-quality cut of beef as well and the University of Nevada has information on how to do so on their website. Dr. de Mello suggested, "Read our brochure and see how to cut this. Everyone is already using this cut of beef and knows how to cut strip steak. We're trying to be innovative and market in a different way."
Amilton spent a lot of time pondering what to name his novelty cut of beef. He decided upon the Bonanza Cut because he wanted an attractive name and he wanted consumers to think about Nevada. Bonanza was a popular television western series based in Virginia City, Nevada from 1959 to 1973. Amilton said, "People pay more for local product and he wanted to show this cut as a local product. Also, Nevada is known for cow-calf but we do much more in the beef industry."
The university has cutting instructions and recipes available to download on their website.