Eating Horse, the delicious meat we've forgotten
Horse; food, friend, or both?
Many people feel a bit squeamish at the thought of eating horse. Sure they're beautiful beasts and we tend to think of them more as companions than we do food. However there's been a long history of eating horsemeat all across the world, it's certainly not dangerous and the nutritional profile would suggest it's even healthier than beef!
Especially over the last few years I've started to see more 'exotic meats' show up in stores; ostrich, crocodile, kanagaroo... is there any real basis in our cultres idea that it is okay to eat some animals but not others, regardless of meat nutrition, taste and quality?
Can Humans really eat Horse?
During the Palaeolithic era, Horse was a plentiful and perfectly acceptable source of food. True we are no longer cavemen yet our digestive systems have changed very little since those times. Unless you have an allergy to Horsemeat (and if you can eat other meats without issue then you should be fine) then there is no medical reason at all why you cannot enjoy a juicy Horse steak.
If you still have some doubts then consider this; it's a bit like 'Beef light'. A gamey, red meat with nutrients similar to Beef only with less fat. If you're following a Paleo or Atkins style diet then please do add a fatty sauce on top. For those out there who prefer the low-fat style of life, Horse would be perfect for you! It's lean, healthy and packed full of protein.
Horse around the World
In Asia, Horsemeat is freely sold and widely consumed; in fact many consider it a delicacy for its tender texture and low-fat content. The Japanese dish of Basashi is composed of thinly sliced raw horse served with soy sauce, ginger and onions.
Several European countries, including Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Solvenia and Austria, commonly consume horse as part of specially made sausages, salamis and as cold-cuts.
In the UK, Horsemeat is legal for consumption, yet it has become taboo and the market is virtually non-existent due to the view of Horses as human companions.
In the USA there are several state laws (Texas and Illinois in particular) which ban the slaughter of Horses for human consumption. This does mean that getting Horsemeat in the USA would be potentially illegal so maybe wait until you take a holiday abroad to try it.
So it’s safe to eat and apparently quite tasty, so why are we not buying Horse steaks alongside our Beef, Chicken and Lamb?
Nutritional Profile of Horse Meat
|Serving size: 100g|
|Calories from Fat||36|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 4 g||6%|
|Saturated fat 1 g||5%|
|Unsaturated fat 3 g|
|Carbohydrates 0 g|
|Sugar 0 g|
|Fiber 0 g|
|Protein 21 g||42%|
|Cholesterol 52 mg||17%|
|Sodium 53 mg||2%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
The Answer lies almost 1400 years ago
Well the answer is a Religious one; as Christianity began to gain popularity in the eighth century, Pope Gregory III condemned the ritualistic pagan practice of eating Horsemeat. Horse was eaten as a religious practice by worshippers of Gods such as Odin, amongst others. Although this was not the only reason Horse was eaten (Iceland in particular relied on the meat as a primary source of food) the influence of Christianity caused a sharp decline in consumption. The modern view of a Horse as a pet (as in the case of dogs) also makes many people wary of eating the animal and is the basis of banning the sale of horsemeat in the USA.
Would you try Horse Meat?
Would You Try Horse?
Should we eat Horse? Well in today’s world of grossly expensive meat and dubious farming methods I would suggest that yes, Horse is a viable alternative. They are fed on grass or hay which leads to a much better nutritional profile than grain-fed animals (such as most commercial cattle). Horse is a very lean meat unlike others which are fattened before slaughter. They can partake in farm work prior during their lifetime which increases the cost-efficiency for farmers and of course eating the meat of a horse ensures that they are not wasted after death.
Take the Plunge!
For the more adventurous of you, I’ve included a recipe so you can try Horse yourself (don't break any laws importing it though!) Perhaps one day we will go through a cultural change in which we can embrace this new meat with relish and enjoy a more varied diet from now on.
Anyone simply looking for a quick recipe would do well to treat Horse as they do Beef and fry up a few steaks, Enjoy!
- 2lbs/1kg Horse Rump
- 2 Sticks Celery
- 2-3 Carrots
- 1 Onion, Large
- 4 Cloves
- A Dozen Coriander Seeds
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 2oz/50g Lard
- 1/4 cup/60ml olive oil
- 1 Bottle Dry Red Wine
- 1tbsp Butter, kneaded in flour
- 2-3tbsp Paprika
- Salt and Pepper
- Lardoon the meat with the lard and slivers of carrots. Dice the other vegetables and put them with the meat and the spices except the paprika in a bowl; pour the wine over everything, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for three days, turning the meat occasionally.
- Pat the meat dry (reserve the vegetables and the marinade), flour it, and brown it in the oil, in a pot over a brisk flame. Add the vegetables, and when they've cooked for a few minutes, pour the marinade over the meat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about three hours. Once the meat is done, remove it to a platter and blend the sauce.
- Return the sauce to the fire, thicken it with the butter-flour ball, and season it to taste with paprika. Pour the sauce over the meat and serve, with polenta and the side dishes you prefer.
- The wine? Amarone or Valpolicella Superiore, or a Cabernet-Merlot blend along the lines of Valcalepio.