ON a stainless steel table in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association test kitchen, a meat scientist named Bridget Wasser began dissecting a piece of beef shoulder as big as a couch cushion.

Her knife danced between long, thick muscles, then she flipped the whole thing open like book. After a tug and one final slice, she set before her visitor the Denver steak.

The three-quarter-inch-thick cut is an inexpensive, distant cousin of the New York strip. And it didn’t exist until the nation’s 800,000 cattle ranchers began a radical search for cuts of meat that consumers would buy besides steaks and ground beef.

The idea was simple. Dig around in the carcass and find muscles that, when separated and sliced in a certain way, were tender and tasty enough to be sold as a steak or a roast. “People know how to cook steaks,” said Dave Zino, executive director of the cattlemen’s Beef and Veal Culinary Center.

The Denver was invented after meat and marketing experts spent more than $1.5 million and five years on the largest study anyone had ever done on the edible anatomy of a steer.

The point was to increase the $15.5 billion a year that people spend at the supermarket buying beef. The association thinks consumers may pay $5.99 a pound for a Denver steak. As ground beef, it’s about $2.99.

To read the entire article, link to Severson's report at New York Times.