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Bonanza Cut, new premium beef cut, unveiled by meat science professor

Courtesy of the
University of Nevada

Like a diamond in the rough, a small cut of beef that meat cutters throw in with ground meat is now being looked at as a high-end delicacy by researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The small, quarter-moon-shaped slice of beef that has a taste and tenderness that outclasses any other cut except filet mignon made its debut this week for media, meat industry representatives and University officials in a private tasting.

Assistant professor of meat science Amilton de Mello, who redeveloped the use for the piece of meat, talked about the science behind the cut, its ease of trimming and profitability for the meat processing industry, as well as the potential for restaurants to offer it as a premier menu item. The Bonanza Cut is juicy, extremely tender and very marbled. The petite slice of beef is ideal for grilling and practically melts in your mouth.

“Chefs and restaurants will love this cut, it can be portioned for many sizes of servings,” de Mello, from the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, said. “And for meat producers, it offers a higher price point and more profits by taking this cut in a new direction.”

The meat science program hosted the private tasting of the Bonanza Cut. Kaimi Coonrad, executive chef of Reno’s premier catering company, The Cheese Board American Bistro and Catering Company, prepared and served the delicacy.

“It can be served in a variety of ways, grilling on a flat top, grill or even a cast iron skillet,” Coonrad said. “A light marinade will complement the innate flavor of the meat. The first bite gives a blast of flavor and then the pure flavor of the beef comes through.”

Coonrad, has 20 years of experience as a chef. He created two themes for the Bonanza Cut: Mediterranean and Southwest with six recipes. The Southwest Bonanza Cut, El Paso style, features a tangy southwest marinade for the cuts served with roasted corn and black bean salad with baked potato wedges and a jalapeno aioli garnish.

“It melts in your mouth, the marinade was nice and light, not overshadowing the flavor of the Bonanza Cut,” Stan Omaye, chair of the University’s Department of Agriculture, Nutrition and Veterinary Science, said at the tasting.

Consumers won’t find the Bonanza Cut in the meat department or restaurants yet. It will be up to the meat producers, such as JBS who funded de Mello’s research, to make the cut available.

The quest for a new cut of meat

De Mello started to develop this new cut in 2014 while working for the beef industry. With support from JBS, a world leader in processing of beef products, he conducted research on the cut at the university beginning in 2015.

The objective of the experiment was to evaluate tenderness and cooking yields of the very far end of the flat iron steak and verify the opportunity of exploring this cut as an added-value product.

Research found the Bonanza Cut has superior marbling and higher fat content compared to other meat cuts, including the flat iron steak.

“Meat processors will like this specialty cut for a number of reasons, one because it’s very easy to trim,” de Mello said.

The small cut yields two pieces per beef carcass that combined weigh about a half of a pound. By angling the cut when breaking the ribs, meat cutters will gain more volume for the Bonanza Cut.

“This small volume makes this cut even more special based on its high quality and low availability,” de Mello said.

Also at the Bonanza Cut unveiling and tasting was Chris Calkins, Professor of Animal Science at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who developed the Flat Iron Steak.

“In an industry with a small profit margin, any opportunity to increase value is appreciated,” he said. “Upgrading this meat from a ground beef/trim price to steak-quality price should return more dollars to the industry.”

In 2015 de Mello was hired at the university. In addition to his research, he teaches about the meat industry, food safety and quality systems and advanced meat science in the university’s Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Veterinary Sciences.

“We are creating a very broad meat science program,” he said. “We have meat-quality projects and experiments involving animal welfare and food safety. “

The university’s experiment station houses the meat processing plant, feedlot facilities, cattle working areas and 650 acres of irrigated pasture, all just 15 minutes from the main campus in downtown Reno.

“Amilton brings an abundance of energy and expertise to the program,” Bill Payne, dean of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, said. “He’s one of 12 new faculty in the College who will allow us to better connect with and support agricultural producers in ways that have not been possible for many years.” ❖


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