When beef is good, it will have a fine smooth open grain, and it will feel tender when squeezed or pinched in your fingers. The lean should he of a bright carnation red, and the fat white rather than yellow - the suet should be perfectly white. If the lean looks dark or purplish, and the fat very yellow, do not buy the meat.
See that the butcher has properly jointed the meat before it goes home. For good tables, the pieces generally roasted are the sirloin and the fore and middle ribs. In genteel houses other parts are seldom served up as roast-beef. In small families the ribs are the most convenient pieces. A whole sirloin is too large, except for a numerous company, but it is the piece most esteemed.
The best beef-steaks are those cut from the ribs, or from the inner part of the sirloin. All other pieces are, for this purpose, comparatively hard and tough.
The round is generally corned or salted, and boiled. It is also used for the dish called beef a-la-mode.
The legs make excellent soup; the head and tail are also used for that purpose.
The tongue when fresh is never cooked except for mince-pies. Corned or salted it is seldom liked, as in that state it has a faint sickly taste that few persons can relish. But when pickled and afterwards smoked (the only good way of preparing a tongue) it is highly and deservedly esteemed.
The other pieces of the animal are generally salted and boiled. Or when fresh they may be used for soup or stews, if not too fat.
If the state of the weather will allow you to keep fresh beef two or three days, rub it with salt, and wrap it in a cloth.
In summer do not attempt to keep it more than twenty-four hours; and not then unless you can conveniently lay it in ice, or in a spring-house.
In winter if the beef is brought from market frozen, do not cook it that day unless you dine very late, as it will be impossible to get it sufficiently done - meat that has been frozen requiring double the usual time. To thaw it, lay it in cold water, which is the only way to extract the frost without injuring the meat. It should remain in the water three hours or more.