The new cuts originate from the pork shoulder and leg, two areas of the carcass that have not had significant new product innovation and are typically under-valued.
"We are extremely excited about these new cuts," says Becca Hendricks, strategic marketing manager for the Pork Checkoff. "With this project, we can give today's cooks more pork choices and variety, while also adding more value for America's pork producers."
A Checkoff-funded pork muscle profiling study conducted by Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University examined all muscles larger than half a pound to identify chemical traits such as pH and water holding capacity, sensory qualities including tenderness, flavor and juiciness, and physical attributes. From the research, the four cuts that stood out as having strong marketability were the pork breast and petite tender from the shoulder and the cap steak and pocket roast from the leg.
Pork Breast - This is a very versatile piece of meat and can be used in a variety of dishes. This cut is already being sold as pre-marinated fajita meat.
Petite Tender - This cut is a portion for one and can be used for upscale dishes because of its tenderness. This is equivalent to a small tenderloin and could be used for medallions.
Cap Steak - This is a thin, striated muscle, similar to a flank steak. This will work well in ethnic dishes such as fajitas or stir fry.
Pocket Roast - This roast is very tender and juicy and portioned for two. It could be a rotisserie product or a personal roast.
"Although several muscles could have additional value potential, we chose these four since we wanted to ensure cuts would be easy to obtain and economically feasible for all parties in the chain," Hendricks adds. "We have worked with several chefs to help develop menu possibilities, culinary opinion, cooking and handling recommendations, nomenclature and recipes ideas."
The Pork Checkoff and the U.S. Meat Export Federation will host a packer/processor training seminar in July to show packers how to access these muscles and to provide them with culinary ideas. After the packers make these products available, the checkoff will begin promoting the new cuts to the foodservice audience.