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Taming horsemeat

26 February, 2011

Originally published in the Journal de Montréal on February 26, 2011.

Horses were already being appreciated for their meat during prehistoric times. People then started domesticating them about 5,500 years ago, exploiting the animal’s strength to help them in hard physical labour and it’s docility to act as a mode of transport. So the consumption of horsemeat declined and was limited to periods of famine.

Today, equine meat is known for its excellent nutritional qualities: it is high in protein, low in fat, rich in vitamins and is a good source of haemic (blood) iron (the form that is most easily absorbed by the body, as opposed to the iron in plants). In addition, it is also extremely tender and slightly sweet. This is due to its glycogen content. And its price is comparable to that of good quality beef.

For all the above reasons, horsemeat has gained favour among those who keep an eye on their diet, such as athletes, people who want to lose weight, anaemic women and of course, foodies.

Horsemeat is available in the same (or almost the same) cuts as beef, so it can be used in the same recipes, on condition that it is seared quickly to preserve its juices and that it is not overcooked to avoid toughening it. You can start taming it this week by trying out an equine version I’m proposing of a great classic, a shepherd’s pie with horsemeat!

P.S. You may be interested in reading the article from Mark Schatzker published recently in the Globe and Mail on this same subject.

Try our recipe for Horsemeat and Sweet Potato Pie

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Cinzia Cuneo

Cinzia Cuneo, founder of SOSCuisine.com, never wanted to neglect the quality of her food. She shares her special expertise to make good food quickly and without complications!

Cinzia Cuneo

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7 Responses to “Taming horsemeat”

February 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm, Linda said:

Disgusted that you would put up a recipe with horsemeat. I realize fully that most of the meat we eat today is from factory farms and that the conditions are deplorable. Although this makes me a hypocrite, I would never eat horse meat. Perhaps this is the added push I needed to go vegetarian or only buy my meat from organic ranchers I know. Very disappointed.

February 26, 2011 at 12:24 pm, Val said:

Ditto what Linda said…there is NO NEED for us to eat horsemeat in North America…the horse is a respected and useful partner in sport, leisure, and working in fields and woods…when they are no longer useful, they should be humanely destroyed, not eaten. This is hugely disappointing, and was a very poor decision to post.

February 26, 2011 at 1:01 pm, Laura said:

To the comments above, unless you’re *actually* vegetarian, I don’t think you can really comment on the wisdom of eating horsemeat. How is this different from cow? Chicken? Fish? It does seem very hypocritical.

It’s purely a social construct that we don’t eat horsemeat.

“Horses were already being appreciated for their meat during prehistoric times. People then started domesticating them about 5,500 years ago, exploiting the animal’s strength to help them in hard physical labour and it’s docility to act as a mode of transport. So the consumption of horsemeat declined and was limited to periods of famine.”

If horses hadn’t been used for labour, we would STILL be eating them and no one would think anything of it at all.

February 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm, andrea said:

my experience, being raised in in a small town in a rural area in the south of Italy, is that farmers truly love all of their animals, pigs, chickens, bunnies, horses and donkeys, ducks, sheep, goats … and just don’t feel guilty at all when time comes for them to become food,

it’s in the natural order of things, farmers respect, feed, nurse, work with their animals, when they are alive, and thankfully eat them when time comes, this holds for all animals horses and bunnies (I know how differently people feels about bunnies in North America) included, there’s nothing cruel in it, and it is just so natural when you witness it.

Living in cities, probably, puts us in a different perspective in our relation with animals and food, but I would trust farmers on this

March 03, 2011 at 4:32 am, Phil said:

Here we go again with the “Oh, they’re so cute! We must protect them”.

If seals looked like big spiders, Bardot & McCartney would both be up north bashing them with joy.

And what about these poor plants that vegetarians exploit? Don’t they have right to life?

Give me meat, damn it! And I don’t care where it’s from, as long as it’s tasty… Hey, I wonder what vegetarians taste like?

March 03, 2011 at 9:37 am, Michael Muryn said:

While I cannot comment on if it is right to eat other animals and the fact that we are not the only one eating other species… If you appose that kind of judgment to horses with that justification, then the same should apply to cows, chickens, fishes, etc. (even cats and dogs if we dare)

And like Phil said, what about plants which also live? 😉

Phil, when SOS Cuisine will have the feature to add our own recipes, I would like to see your “vegetarian” recipes! 😉

March 04, 2011 at 12:04 pm, Tatiana said:

What everyone else said – a bit hypocritical to speak out against horses given that we eat other domestic animals, although I cannot eat dogs either.

Most people’s concerns stem from other issues – inhumane treatment, poor conditions, etc. If dogs/horses were raised for consumption like Kobe beef with great diets and massages, we would likely shrug and desist.

Rather than going vegetarian, I’d suggest searching out humane farmers in your area. We buy all local meat from farms we visited and we’re very satisfied with not contributing to suffering in factory farmed meat.

And I’d still think clubbing giant spider-looking seals would be cruel…

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