The grandmother of my French boyfriend, at the time, loved to spoil us. We called her 'Nounou' Every Sunday, she would stroll down to the nearby outdoor market very early morning before the crowd would settle, and catch up with her neighbours for some tittle-tattle. She'd pick up the best produce of the day for herself and her family. We'd hear her hang up a small bag of groceries on our door knob as we'd finally wake up. As much as we were delighted having these personal deliveries, we'd also rejoice in spending Sunday mornings quietly and alone. We would then pay our much respectful gratitude to Nounou during our afternoon visit to her apartment for a small chat around lemonade and biscottes, while she would knit and pass on the latest neighborhood gossip.
One morning, after hearing the rustling sound of the plastic bag that she was hanging on our front door, I waited until her footsteps would fade away and her door at the end of the hallway would shut close. Quickly after, I gently grabbed the bag with the greatest effort to close our ridiculously squeaky door with the most littlest noise as one could attempt to make. Relieved, I swooshed to our lovely little kitchen, already illuminated by the sun rays beaming through the tall window, and opened the bag to find what goodies Nounou had picked up for us.
I pulled out a couple of buttery croissants, and a nice pack of meat cuts wrapped in paper. I opened the paper wrapping and was striken by the freshness of the beef filets which were dark red, yet vibrant in colour. My boyfriend finally got up and saw the fabulous cuts of the red meat and said, "on mange ça c'midi!" ("we'll eat that for lunch") without any hesitation. Came noon, I started heating up a large sauce pan and added a few nuts of butter. You can never have too much butter....mmmmmh. On I went to season the beef filets with some salt and pepper. A simple lunch menu which I knew would be fantastic. The sizzling of the steaks just made my mouth water as I set the table and prepared a small garden salad on the side. No side dish. Pieces of a fresh warm baguette would do perfectly. I can't describe the size of those meat cuts, but by just saying so, I think you have an idea.
The steaks were ready and so were we, to savour them quietly. As I cut my first piece, my knife was shearing through the meat like a spoon would through butter. It was the most tender and the most flavourful beef I had ever tasted in my life! I thought "God, I love this country! I could eat here forever!". After lunch, we went to our regular afternoon visit to Nounou's. She asked "Alors, les enfants, comment avez-vous aimé le cheval?" (translation : "so kids, how did you enjoy the horse meat?"). "Horse meat?!" I gasped! I thought I was going to be sick and started to feel extremely guilty. Being an animal lover, one would think that I would be a vegetarian. Unfortunately, my paradox revolves around my love for animals and my love for eating meat. I won't get into it now, but basically, I felt confused. I love horses and find them to be beautiful animals but I couldn't get used to the idea that I could enjoy eating their meat! As time passed, my mind and body started to accept it but I had not eaten horsemeat ever since, until just recently when I started experiencing minor iron deficiency problems.
My colleague, who is italian, told me how horse meat is a relatively healthy red meat, compared to beef, having a very high iron content, being super lean and more digestible than beef. It tastes very similar to beef but with a slightly stronger flavour. In addition, horse meat is almost half the price of the best quality beef currently available on today's market (Angus, grade A). Give it a try! I eat horsemeat once a month whenever I can, and I don't regret it because of its health benefits I just enumerated.
I made these amazing gourmet burgers this evening which were divine. Coating the horse meat patties with a little bit of margarine or butter, and garnish them with caramelized onions adds flavour and juiciness to the meat.
Preparation : 10 minutes, Cooking time : 5-7 minutes
Recipe "au pif":
1 1/2 lb fresh ground horse meat from your local butcher (if not available in supermarkets)
1 tsp freshly ground turmeric/curcuma
salt and pepper
Whole wheat keiser buns
Cheese slices (Havarti, Cheddar, Blue, Edam or your favorite cheese)
1 onion, thinly sliced and caramelized in olive oil
thin slices of tomatoes
dijon mustard, or any other of your favorite condiments
Since horse meat is extremely lean, prepare the horse patties about 3/4 inch thick.
Rub each side of the patties with about 1/4 tsp of butter-flavoured margarine
season with salt, pepper and tumeric/curcuma
Grill the patties until cooked to your taste (medium rare is recommended for extra juiciness).
Lightly toast your keiser buns (sliced in half) on the grill or in the oven, for about 2-3 minutes or until the surface is slightly crisp.
Garnish your burger with the cheese, caramelized onions, spinach, tomatoes, mayo, dijon mustardé
Makes 4 delicious gourmet burgers
Serve and Savour!