If you look into a butcher’s case or peruse the meat aisle at your local grocery store, you’ll see what look like a lot of the same things. How do you know which cuts are for braising, and which ones are better for steak? It’s easy to shop for the right meat when you know what to look for. All you have to do is understand a handful of broad, simple concepts about what makes a piece of meat tough or tender. Understanding and recognizing qualities that make up a piece of meat will empower you to choose meat for any occasion. Relatively weak, low-activity muscles make for tender steaks, while stronger, high-activity muscles are better as slow-cooking and braising cuts. When selecting tender cuts, always look for four things: Fine meat grain Fewer muscle groups within the cut (a single muscle is best) Little connective tissue Lean to medium amount of fat marbling (depends on your preference) Tender meat should have very fine clusters of muscle fibers that feel soft to the touch.