Today's beef is not as fatty as that of years past. In fact beef can even be a part of a low-fat diet. Beef eaters should choose lean cuts, eat small portions, and trim all visible fat before cooking. Beef is also an excellent source of different vitamins that can be difficult to obtain elsewhere (iron, zinc, and vitamin B12). To get the most benefits from a cut of beef it should be boiled. By the way, trimming the fat has no effect on the vitamin and mineral quality of the meat. It doesn't really matter whether the meat is lean or fatty; the levels of nutrients are approximately the same.
Fat content in beef is widely variable depending on the cut; the leanest pieces are as low in fat as broiled fish or skinless chicken. There are several varieties of beef:
Brisket: The front part of the breast is a boneless cut of beef with considerable fat that is best braised or cooked in liquid. Chuck: This cut is the beef from the shoulder, arm, and neck of the animal. The chuck contains a lot of connective tissue, and, therefore, is not very tender. It should be cooked in liquid for long periods of time at moderate temperatures; that is the best way to break down the connective tissue and tenderize the meat. Flank: From this section, which is just behind the belly, comes flank steak, also called London broil. It can be braised, pan-broiled, or stir-fried. The beef should be cut very thin on a sharp angle across the grain to make it easier to chew. Fore shank: The meat from the front legs of the steer. It is quite tough, and used primarily for stew and ground beef. Rib: Cuts from the rib are quite tender. In general, rib cuts should be roasted, but the steaks can be broiled, grilled, or sautéed. Back ribs come with the bone intact and can be either roasted or braised. Round: This section is so named because it contains the round bone, or femur. In spite of the muscles in the round the beef from the round is tender because the muscles all run in one direction. As roasts, these cuts can be roasted or braised; as steaks, they can be broiled or pan-broiled.
Short Loin: The tenderest cuts come from the loin, the muscle that does the least work. Roasts from this section can be roasted or broiled; the steaks can be broiled, sautéed, or grilled. Ground Beef: Most ground beef comes from the chuck, sirloin, or round. Extra lean ground beef is, on average, 17% fat by weight when raw. If you want to get the leanest ground meat, buy a lean cut of sirloin or round and ask the butcher to trim it of all external fat and grind it for you.
While cut and grade are good indicators of fat content, you still need to use your eyes when selecting beef. Fresh beef is easy to spot and it has creamy white fat. Another factor is color. When beef is first exposed to oxygen, it develops a cherry red color, called bloom. The inside of the beef is dark purple, while pork, for example, is rosy.
Fresh beef is highly perishable and should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator immediately after purchase. Keep the meat in its original wrapping to minimize handling. The smaller the cut of beef, the more surface area is exposed to air, and the faster it will spoil. To keep beef longer, you must freeze it. The same goes for pork.
And few more tips concerning choosing of beef cuts: the texture of meat should be tender, if it is rough, it means that the animal was too old when butchered; beef that is aged between 14 to 30 days is better tasting because connective tissue breaks down; marinate meat in a flavored vinegar to tenderize it.