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Promoting his industry

By Staff | May 16, 2014

LUCAS PONTIUS, 15, is a member of the Iowa Youth Beef team, recently provided a cooking presentation featuring beef for his 4-H club, the Cedar-Reading Rockets.

GOWRIE – Not only is Lucas Pontius, 15, of Gowrie, learning his way around a kitchen at an early age, he’s also learning to promote the beef industry as a member of the Iowa Youth Beef Team.

The Iowa Youth Beef Team is open to all youths and is sponsored by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and Iowa State University Extension. It was started in 1994 as a way to include young people in the Iowa cattlemen’s organization.

Pontius said that as a member of the IYBT, he earns points for prizes for promoting the beef industry through various outlets – such as 4-H projects, showing his cattle and other beef-related presentations.

One particular presentation Pontius is working on for a 4-H project is a “Battle of the Burgers: Lean Beef or Lean Turkey.”

He will also be showing his one heifer and two steers at the Calhoun County Fair this summer, as well as other cattle shows throughout the year.

Pontius, a freshman at Prairie Valley High School, is also an active member of the Cedar-Reading Rockers 4-H Club, Calhoun County Council member, a member of the Iowa Junior Beef Breeders Association and a member of FFA.

He said he chooses to be active in those organizations for his future career goals.

“I would like to raise cattle someday and this helps me to promote the beef industry,” said Pontius.

His mother, Debra Pontius, said, “It will also help the youths to get comfortable talking to people and promoting the industry.”

Pontius said he does a little bit of help in the kitchen with meals, liking to help with the grilling the most and has learned a lot of his basic cooking skills from 4-H.

Pontius provided some basic beef handling tips. These are:


  • Keep beef refrigerated and never thaw at room temperature.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by separating raw and ready-to-eat foods.


  • Always use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of ground beef
  • Insert meat thermometer sideways into the center of the patty
  • Cook burgers to an internal temperature of at least 135 degrees


  • Never use the same plate that held raw meat, to serve the cooked meat
  • Do not allow any cooked food to sit out at room temperature more than two hours

Pontius said that one out of every four hamburgers turn brown before it’s cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature.

So don’t rely upon color or texture alone to determine if meat is safe to eat.

Pontius is active in cross country, basketball, track and enjoys running 5Ks throughout the summer.

Beef breakfast burrito

12 ounces cooked beef (steak, roast, and deli roast beef) thinly sliced

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

4 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend or cheddar cheese

4 medium flour tortillas, warmed


Heat non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot, add peppers, onion and cook until soft.

Set aside.

Spray skillet with cooking spray, pour eggs into skillet cook over medium heat two to three minutes or until scrambled, stirring occasionally.

Stir in cheese onion and peppers.

Layer on tortilla the cooked beef, and egg mixture. Leave a one-inch border on right and left sides. Fold right and left sides of tortilla over filling. Fold bottom edge up over filling and roll up.

Note: Pontius said his mother makes these ahead and freezes, and other types of meat can be used besides beef.

Juicy Lucy burger

1/12 pounds of ground beef

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

4 slices American cheese

4 hamburger buns

Give your ground beef a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce and mix well and form into eight thin patties.

Fold the cheese slices twice, making a stack of four pieces. Sandwich your stack of cheese between two patties.

Tightly pinch edges together, tightly seal the cheese within the meat.

Repeat with the remaining cheese and patties.

Cook burgers until well browned, about four minutes. It is common for burgers to puff up due to steam from the melting cheese.

Turn burgers and prick the top of each to allow steam to escape; using a meat thermometer cook until inside temperature is 135 to 140 degrees, for medium/well.

Serve on hamburger buns.

Rice pudding

3 cups water

1/2 cup medium grain rice (not minute rice)

Cook rice over low heat to where it has absorbed most of the water.

Add a half stick of butter. Keep stirring until melted and absorbed; add one can sweetened condensed milk.

Continue stirring about 10 minutes and take off heat.

Then add one teaspoon of vanilla and pour into serving bowl. This will thicken as it cools.

Sprinkle with cinnamon. You can also add raisins.

Note: Pontius said this is a family favorite recipe and cautioned that it takes time for liquids to be absorbed, so plan ahead.

Cattlemen’s ribeye


1/8-inch cut ribeye

Seasoning salt

Hoagie buns

Toss ribeye onto a hot grill, add seasoning salt to taste, and grill each side 3 to 4 minutes.

Place on hoagie bun and enjoy.

Optional toppings are sauted green peppers and onions

Beef and cheese calzone

2 (10-ounce) refrigerated pizza crusts

1/2 pound of cooked ground beef

Green onion, chopped

Small can of sliced mushrooms, drained

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1 6-ounce can Italian-style tomato paste

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk

Cook ground beef and onion in a large skillet, drain.

Stir in tomato paste, mushrooms and cheese.

Unroll pizza crusts; cut each into four squares. Spoon 1/3 cup mixture onto each square, leaving a one-inch border around edges; brush borders lightly with egg and milk mixture.

Fold in half diagonally, and press edges together to seal.

Place on lightly greased baking sheets; brush tops of calzones with egg mixture.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Pride of Iowa summer sliders

(The Pride of Iowa contest provides an opportunity for 4-H members to demonstrate proper cooking skills, while showcasing an outstanding Iowa product, using a small appliance.)

8 slices of bacon (halved)

1 pound ground beef

8 Cheddar cheese slices

8 Slider rolls

Optional Iowa Toppings: “Run it through the Garden” using onion, lettuce, tomato, pickle or mushroom.

Divide and form ground beef into eight patties.

Place patties on indoor grill and cook until internal temp reaches 160 degrees.

Cook bacon slices on the indoor grill at same time.

When fully cooked, remove from grill and place on slider rolls, top with cheese and any optional toppings.

Perfect prime rib

(“Prime rib” is not a specific cut of beef, but is actually a preparation method for a beef ribeye roast.)

1 beef ribeye roast bone-in (two to four ribs) (6 to 8 pounds) (8-10 servings)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Season beef roast. (Pontius said his family uses a commercial steakhouse blend of spices).

Press evenly onto all surfaces of beef roast.

Place roast, fat side up, in shallow roasting pan.

Insert oven-proof meat thermometer so tip is centered in thickest part of beef, not resting in fat or touching bone.

Do not add water or cover. Roast for 2.25 to 2.5 hours for medium rare; 2.5 to 3 hours for medium oneness.

Remove roast when meat thermometer registers 135 degrees for medium rare, 145 degrees for medium.

Transfer roast to carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil.

Let stand 15 to 20 minutes.

Carve into slices.

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