Horse meat slaughter for human consumption is apparently coming back to the U.S., perhaps within a month or two according to observers. But what does horse meat taste like?
Some 5 million horses are slaughtered in the top eight countries that eat horse meat, but horse meat production has been banned in the U.S. for the past five years. Congress quietly lifted a five-year-old ban on funding horse meat inspections and many observers say it's only a matter of time before horse meat slaughter plants return to the U.S. Before the ban five years ago, horse meat production was a $65 million business in the U.S.
Now, it's likely coming back, though some activists say it won't be without a fight.
There is no market in the U.S. for horse meat by human consumption. In the U.S., horse meat is fed to zoo animals typically. Humans around the world eat horse meat, however, and create high demand for it, since in parts of Europe and Asia horse meat is considered a delicacy.
Here's what horse meat tastes and looks like: Horse meat varies in color. Meat from younger horses is lighter in color, and flavor, while meat from older horses has a deeper color and flavor. Horse meat is lean, typically, and relatively tender. Older horses are considered to have the most tender meat -- different than say veal from a cow.
Horse meat is a bit sweet in taste. Some think it is a blend between beef (a cow) and venison (deer). People use it similar to the way they use beef, putting it in sandwiches, or serving it in a slab. The cooking time is generally shorter than that of beef, in part because of its lean qualities.
The most popular serving of horse meat is smoked or salted. Some make horse stew, like a Veronese horse meat stew recipe which calls for two pounds of horsemeat cut from the rump, two sticks of celery, some carrots, an onion and lard to help out the lean meat in cooking.
Among the most popular chefs who has endorsed horse meat is Gordon Ramsey, who in 2007, about the time the last horse slaughter house closed in the U.S., urged the public to eat horse meat. The Scottish-born chef admitted, I've eaten horse. He said the meat is healthy, full of iron with less fat than beef and more healthy Omega 3 acids.
Ramsey said, however, that horse meat is slightly gamey in flavor.