The crumb-crusted Petite Tender pictured here demonstrates beef's versatility.
In 2004, there were more than one billion steak servings in commercial restaurants alone, reports NPD Foodworld. Consumer demand for beef increased 22% between 1998 and year-end 2005, according to the Cattlemen's Beef Board.

That interest may have been influenced by the introduction of Beef Value-Added (BVA) cuts developed by the Beef Checkoff's Beef Innovations Group (BIG). These value-added cuts are the result of new cutting techniques that were developed based on findings from the beef industry's Muscle Profiling Study. This research was a Beef Checkoff-funded project that analyzed 39 different muscles from the chuck and round for palatability and functionality. Researchers discovered that several tender and flavorful muscles could be extracted and turned into new cuts of beef that offer greater consistency and tenderness.

For example, the shoulder cut was considered less than premium to the end user and was a prime candidate for value adding. From it emerged the Flat Iron, Petite Tender and Ranch Steak BVA cuts, with tender, easy-to-prepare steaks and roasts.

“The Flat Iron is well marbled for great flavor and tenderness and second only to the tenderloin in tenderness,” offers Steve Wald, associate director of the Checkoff's new product initiatives. “It stays tender, even when cooked to well done and never needs marinating.” Its versatility makes it useful as a grilled steak in fajitas, kabobs and stir-fry.

The Petite Tender is a classy cut from one of the most tender beef muscles. It not only looks like a filet when cut into medallions, but has a similar bite, only without the price tag. Its shape and size is comparable to pork tenderloin. Whether cooked whole, roasted or grilled, the Petite Tender works well with many flavor and sauce profiles.

The Ranch Steak cooks quickly, is adaptable for everyday meals and performs great on the grill, skillet or broiler. It can be sliced, diced or cut into strips.

The Ranch Steak and Petite Tender also have been tested independently and now join 27 other cuts of beef that meet the USDA labeling guidelines for lean (i.e., less than 10g of total fat, 4.5g or less of saturated fat and less than 95mg of cholesterol per 31/2-oz serving of lean beef). While lean beef cuts have, on average, just 1g more of saturated fat than lean chicken, the total fat content of lean beef is still only a fraction (less than 10%) of the recommended Daily Value.

Other cuts that were introduced include the Sirloin Tip side steak and Tip Center steak, which are made from the knuckle cut, and the Western Griller and Western Tip, which are from the bottom round. The Sirloin Tip Center makes a quick and easy roast and the Sirloin Tip side steak is tender and juicy when marinated and cooked to medium rare. All are economical steaks for grilling use.

“More than 103 million pounds of these cuts were sold through foodservice last year, and 20,000 U.S. restaurants have menued at least one of these cuts,” says Wald. The BIG team, comprised of scientists, culinary professionals, operations experts, marketers and product specialists, plans to develop a patent-pending steak sandwich product for quick service restaurants. BIG is looking to partner with food processors to spur the development of beef products and grow beef profitability.

For more information:
National Cattlemen's Beef Association Centennial, Colo.
Steve Wald • 303-850-3315 •