STILLWATER — When they announced the discovery of the Vegas strip steak last year, Oklahoma State University researchers were tight-lipped about the source of the new cut of beef.
Now that OSU's patent paperwork for the steak is public, anyone with Internet access and a basic understanding of how to cut up a steer can see how it's done.
“There are no more secrets, if you will,” said Jacob Nelson, a meat processing specialist at OSU's Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center.
OSU announced the development of the steak last year, saying only that it came from a long-maligned section of muscle. OSU officials filed a patent application for the technique used to extract the steak in September. That application was posted on the World Intellectual Property Organization's website earlier this month.
According to the patent application, the Vegas strip steak comes from the subscapularis muscle, which lies beneath a cow's shoulder blade.
The muscle used in the steak isn't new, Nelson said — it's always been there on the cow's shoulder. But the beef industry hasn't generally considered it worthy to be sold as a steak, Nelson said. Instead, meat from that area has generally been ground for hamburger or sold as stew meat.
“Steak kind of carries some weight with it,” he said. “You have certain expectations when you call it a steak.”
OSU researchers, along with a chef from David Burke's Primehouse in Chicago, perfected a technique for producing a steak from the muscle that Nelson said is comparable to a boneless strip. The steak is about as tender as a Kansas City strip, Nelson said, and it looks like a typical strip steak once it's on a plate.
Although the steak is on the market, Nelson said Oklahomans aren't likely to see them in supermarket meat counters anytime soon. Meat producers aren't turning out enough Vegas strip steaks to supply both restaurants and grocery stores, he said. When supply is limited, restaurants are generally the first buyers in line, he said.