Spaghetti with Pesto Meatballs; Still Eating Horses….

Spaghetti with Pesto Meatballs

How would you like your horse?  Medium rare?

When we first moved to Ireland,  I remember there being a bit of a flap in England about joining the European Union and having to export their prized hunting stallions to France to be eaten.

I don’t remember the particulars but do remember wondering if an Arabian was better than a Palomino.

After moving to Andorra I realized that the whole bit had apparently been blown up by the tabloids….In Andorra they raise ‘food horses’ (lots) and riding horses (not so many) and, at least to my untrained eye, there is a difference.  Foodhorses

The food horses are grazed in the high pastures like the sheep and goats.  They are stocky animals: short legs, big bodies, big hooves, and don’t appear any more domesticated than the goats and sheep they graze with.

I will say, however, that being on the bare face of a mountainside, and having a flock of sheep come over the rise is fun.
Seeing a drove of goats come over the rise is interesting.
Hearing a herd of wild ‘food’ horses thundering over the rise, with the herder shouting and cracking a long whip, is absolutely terrifying!

Back to the food:  the meat is exported mainly to France and Spain, with only a small amount sold locally – pork and lamb being favored in Andorra.

You will find it in the shops and on menus, particularly in rural areas, both horse and colt.

Oh, and the riding horses are kept in stables and fed apples by hand – just like everywhere else.

Europeans, in general, know that meat was once an actual animal, and are okay with that.  They have no problem enjoying all of it.  It’s common to see a plate of pig’s feet at the table next to you at lunch. Pig ears (real ones) are great dog treats!  We were told not to accept dinner invitations in Ireland on a Tuesday because that was ‘tripe’ (stomach lining) day and I often hear my British friends raving about the tongue they had at so and so’s.

I, on the other hand come from a squeamish background.

I like what I eat to have food names: chops, steaks, roast; rather than vital body-part names: lung, heart, tongue, brains.

Don’t get me wrong, I have eaten my share of non-standard fare.  I grew up in the Midwest where hunting is common, (although by the time I saw any of the meat it was cooked and on the table).  I have eaten: squirrel, rabbit, raccoon (only once, eww..), venison, buffalo and all sort of birds.  In the southwest I was convinced to try rattlesnake and in Florida, ‘gator.

Trust me, the only thing that tastes like chicken is chicken!

I am not totally lacking in culinary courage – I just don’t want to eat intestines…or brains…or glands…or tongues.

Plus, I don’t know how to eat a pig foot….Pick it up and gnaw?  Knife and fork…how does one cut a hoof?  Does one eat all of it?

Is that why there are so many dogs in European restaurants (slip it under the table to the family garbage can)?

For the record I have, unintentionally, eaten sweetbreads (quite tasty), kidneys (I’ll pass), horse (kind of sweet but very lean and tender), kid (flavor was good but texture strange), tripe (no comment) and haggis (lots of whisky – and I like it!) and more parts of pig than I really want to know about.

And foie gras?  That’s a classification all to itself: Nectar of the Gods!

(I’m taking a hint from Lydia, of A Perfect Pantry, who made a comment recently that sometimes, in order to stay sane, we bloggers need to take a wee break and do a reprint of an older post.  This is from one done in the early days of my blog, with modifications, of course.  I never could leave anything alone… The photo is new…)

And the food is new….

We just can’t seem to break away from winter this year.

We have a bit of spring and think it’s time to get the barbecue out.

Then the rains come back and we are lighting fires every night again.

Thus I had half of a container of pesto in the fridge.  It had been meant for a salad but, as that didn’t appear to be happening anytime soon, it ended up in the meatballs.

So, sorry Ruth: I’m back to winter cooking this week!

Be sure to visit  Once Upon a Feast, on Friday, for the Presto Pasta Night recap!  Maybe someone else will have salads….

Spaghetti with Pesto Meatballs 

12 oz ground beef (350 gr mince)Pestomeatball
3 tbs bread crumbs
3 tbs pesto
1 tbs red wine
1 egg
Sauce
1 can crushed tomatoes, 15 oz (450gr)
1 can tomato sauce, 8oz (250ml)
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 tsp paprika
1 tbs olive oil
spaghetti, with basil or spinach is nice
2 – 3 tbs Parmesan for sprinkling

Cook pasta according to package directions.
Lightly beat egg with a fork. Add pesto, bread crumbs, wine and mix well. Add beef, mix well. Form into meatballs, about 1 1/2″ (5cm) in diameter.
Roughly chop onion and mince garlic. In large nonstick skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add paprika and sauté briefly. Add onions and garlic. Sauté until tender and onion is transparent, 7 – 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, sauce and herbs. Heat to a simmer. Drop the meatballs in carefully, trying to keep them separate. Cover and simmer until meatballs are done, about 15 minutes. Stir once or twice.
When pasta is done, drain and put into a large bowl. Pour meatballs and sauce over the top, remove bay leaf, sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

Mon mari just saw a bit on the telly about a restaurant in China that specializes in dog.  Apparently brown dogs are preferred (sorry, Sedi) with black dogs being acceptable and white dogs the least favored (lucky Emma).

I don’t think I’ll go there.

23 thoughts on “Spaghetti with Pesto Meatballs; Still Eating Horses….”

  1. There’s a problem in Canada & the US with retired race horses being slaughtered for it’s meat.
    I won’t judge those who eat horse but I won’t.
    I love your used of pesto pasta on a classic meatballs recipe…a feast for the eyes.
    Giddy UP!

  2. I don’t know why I never thought of adding pesto to my meatballs Katie. I come from a very squeamish family and offal is not on the menu, although I have tried (almost) everything under the sun…I stop at eyeballs.

  3. horses? that’s a very new concept to me. Cats & dogs, yes, no horses. I am not an adventurous eater so if presented with a plate of horse, I’d probably pass. I want to try everything so badly, for the foodie in me, but things like horses, squirrels, and pig feet are off limit, for now.
    Brains, funny you mentioned that. We had goat brains in India during our last trip. That turned me off to food for a day. Too mushy and its resemblence to an actual brain was enough to walk away after the first bite.
    your green pasta looks delish!

  4. You’re more adventurous than I–compared to you, I am more than semi-squeamish…I’ve come a long way from where I used to be, but still, compared to many, squeamish.
    Never had horse, although I live in an area where horses are big business…but not in the culinary sense, lol. Not sure if I could bring myself to though…even though I know where my meat comes from, some animals still stick out in my head as “cute” or something like that (e.g. having grown up with a pet rabbit, I could never eat a rabbit).
    But my peculiarities aside, the meatballs look delicious and the pesto sounds like a great flavor boost.

  5. Oh dear, Scientist, I can manage black pudding but I don’t think I could do blood soup… and no brains or intestines, either!
    Peter, I didn’t and wouldn’t eat it on purpose…is the horse in the U.S. meant for animals or humans…
    Kalyn, it actually ended up flavoring the whole sauce!
    Val, no eyeballs…I watched a travel show person do it once…. Still have nightmares!
    LiberalFoodie, I can’t do brains… They look too much like, well, brains! We have no squirrels in France, apparently they ate them all during the war.
    Mike, rabbit is very popular here. When I first moved there was even the choice of getting it skinned or still in it’s, um, pyjamas…. I passed….

  6. The great thing about occasionally running older posts is that it gives readers a chance to catch up on ones we might have missed! Of course, I have a hard time even reading posts about those “body part” foods. I’ve never been good at eating anything that looks like it might have come out of my own body!

  7. I don’t think I could eat horse. Isn’t it funny how you are just accustomed to certain things being food and certain things being pets?
    I have been introducing our kids to more unusual foods and they’ve been quite receptive for the most part.
    They’ve tried squid, frog legs, cuttlefish and more. My dd especially has been liking the new foods. Every time we go to a certain store she remarks how she wants to try the cow’s tongue. I just can’t try it. I can’t do organs either…many years ago I tried liver and it was ok – but afterwards I felt sick.
    I look at so much food in the world food store that I just would not want to eat – and yet realize that for many, many folks this is WONDERFUL food. It’s all what you are used to.

  8. This post reminds me of a travel channel show where the host goes around the world and eats anything. Seriously, this guy eats bugs, balls, you name it.

  9. My first husband loved tongue so, being the good little wifey, I’d cook it for him but couldn’t join him in eating it – ‘way too graphic to have cooked and skinned it! Eek!

  10. They don’t taste like chicken, but I think alligator tastes like a pork chop!
    After reading about horses and intestine and stuff, I was a little worried when I got to the recipe. lol. But this looks great! I love the addition of pesto…I make turkey burgers with pesto all the time, so I’m sure this is crazy-good! This may be the next dish I make! 😀

  11. Great idea putting pesto into the meatballs! Whenever I make meatballs I always look around from something different to add. Now I have it!
    Very spring-like!

  12. Lydia, I agree. One of the first things I do in a foreign country is memorize body part/food names so I know what NOT to order!
    Edi, I think it really depends on what you had as a child. I grew up with liver and love it…but not tongue!
    Colleen, seen that show…culinary nightmares!
    Ley, one never knows! Pork chops? Hmmmm.
    I can’t get ground turkey here, but that would be yummy!
    Pam, what a nice wifey you were…. I knew you meant beef….
    Lynn, awful offal?!?!?
    Deb, plus it used up that last bit of pesto… That I had open for 3 weeks, but only ‘keeps for 2 – 3 days’. Not in my world!

  13. Given that winter seems to have returned…a long April Fool’s Day joke! This dish is perfect. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Night.
    As for all those “interesting” food choices…well, I’m mostly mainstream although I have enjoyed some of them. Others on the other hand will never touch my lips unless I’m very drunk or totally unaware.

  14. Lovely contrast the meatballs and the green pasta!!! And a delish for sure 😀
    I love eating all things you mentioned except big livers. But I feel so bad when eating horse, eventhough my palate enjoys it, my heart aches! You should give veal tongue a chance… it’s one of the best meats ever!!! In a stew or vinagrette is super!!!! Not to mention pig food, I’ll be posting during April some pig food with snails. Come on, dare to try it, Katie!

  15. I’ve had my fair share of ‘exotic’ meat – pigs ears, kangaroo, even crocodile! But horses is a new one to me. Not sure if I’d eat it if I knew but thats most always the case. just like when I was young and we had frogs legs at some Chinese Restaurant. My father told us it was chicken first and only later that it was frogs legs. Now I’d eat it anytime!!!

  16. Gattina, Yup! Haggis! In Scotland, even…with Scotch!
    Ruth, several of them passed my lips in exactly those circumstances…. Thankfully…
    Nuria, I do snails… and most pig stuff…
    I love liver…. But I don’t know about the tongue!
    Dharm, my younger brother loved frog legs when he was little – perfect size for him…
    I’ve not had kangeroo or croc…neither being readily available here. As to the horse…..not by choice

  17. I think I ate horse once in France, back in 1980. I never hear about anyone eating it anymore, although I occasionally see the “Boucherie chevaline” indicated — but not anywhere here in Aveyron that I know of.
    I’m not that keen to eat horse meat, but I have to admit that when I look at beautiful cattle, it’s hard to justify any difference…

  18. Betty, horse is still carried in both the Carrefour and the HyperU here; not a lot but always at least steaks. It was quite popular on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. too – but not in Andorra…

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