It is typical in a cookbook to examine and expound upon the various cuts of meat. Some will even describe in detail how to butcher a beef cattle and where to extract the most tender portions. However, this information is superfluous. In our age of modern convenience it is unlikely a person will be required to hand carve a carcass hanging in their personal meat locker.
Rather, there are two easy rules to follow in picking out beef. First, if you are looking for a roast - get a thick hunk of beef. Second, if you are looking for a steak, get one that is skinnier. Of course it does get a bit more complicated if you are looking for a GOOD steak. Obtaining the elusive GOOD steak depends more on the thickness of your bank roll than the thickness of the meat.
You will find the more expensive cuts of steak have something called marbling. Marbling is really just several thin striations of fat that run between the strands of muscle that make up the slab of meat. It is called marbling because it resembles red and white marble tile. The striations of fat break down when the steak is being cooked and keep the piece of meat tender. A lack of marbling will generally result in a tough steak. If it is any consolation the tougher steak undoubtedly has less cholesterol.
When in doubt, you can always ask your friendly neighborhood butcher. Just be polite - this is a man who has many sharp knives and he knows how to use them.
Here's the Beef:
-Beef Pot Pie
Picking out Beef
-Six Hour Stew
When to Cook Beef
Poor Man's Meat
An Irish Reverie