Want to learn more about meat? There are several recent good books.
“Whole Beast Butchery” by Ryan Farr with Brigit Binns (Chronicle, $40). Do you really like cutting meat? I mean, really like it? This book, from the owner of San Francisco’s 4505 Meats, is packed with very detailed, somewhat graphic photos of that being done. Granted, most of us will never be in a position to break down a whole short loin of beef, but there is a certain reassurance in knowing how it’s done. As an added bonus, there are professional-style, scalable recipes.
“The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat” by Joshua and Jessica Applestone and Alexandra Zissu (Clarkson Potter, $27.50). The Applestones are the Johnny Appleseeds of the modern artisanal butcher movement, and their Brooklyn shop, Fleisher’s Grass-Fed & Organic Meats, is ground zero. This chatty, entertaining book gives all sorts of great meat background larded with a few recipes for things like making your own chorizo and prosciutto.
“Pure Beef” by Lynne Curry (Running Press, $30). A cookbook with a meat slant, this won’t tell you how to cut meat, but it will explain clearly and in simple language what the different cuts are good for and give you recipes for using them.
“The Art of Beef Cutting” by Kari Underly (Wiley, $50). This is hard-core, professional-grade stuff, intended for aspiring butchers and about as good a beef textbook as you’ll find. Using clear, step-by-step color photographs, Underly, a third-generation butcher, walks you through the various primal cuts (chuck, etc.) and the cutting of the subprimals (chuck roll, etc.) and then cookable cuts (chuck short ribs, etc.). There’s also good information on basic butchery techniques.