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Would you eat horse meat?

Now that horse meat is legal to eat in the U.S., will anyone bite?

Horses in pasture

When Congress OK’ed horse meat for consumption in the U.S. recently, it didn’t take long for the puns to start.

A McPony sandwich on the fast food scene? Seabiscuits and gravy at your favorite brunch spot?

For now, pony on the menu is a joke. But could horse really make an appearance at restaurants in the near future?

Though it’s not likely to be widely available, some adventurous chefs think they would try serving it.

Among them: Chicago’s Ryan Poli, executive chef of the soon-to-open restaurant Tavernita, and Rob Levitt, owner of the butcher shop called The Butcher & Larder. In a Chicago Tribune story, both said they would consider horse meat for their establishments.

The big question is whether there’s any demand for horse meat in the U.S. For squeamish diners, it conjures up images of Black Beauty, Trigger and Mr. Ed. To others, it’s considered mystery meat. Or, for people who own and raise horses, it’s just too familiar.

Low-cal and low-fat

But in Canada and in Europe, horse meat is a fairly common main ingredient. The preparations are similar to beef: from carpaccio (thin slices of raw meat) to steaks to stews.

For home cooks, horse is available at supermarkets to the North, too. Metro, a Canadian grocery store chain, provides recipes for horse on its website, including one for Horsemeat Roast with Blue-cheese Horseradish Sauce.

How healthy is horse compared to other meats? Women’s Health points out that horse is super lean: a 3-ounce portion has 149 calories and 5.1 grams of fat. The same portion of chicken has 142 calories and 3.1 grams of fat.

Hold your horses

How did this all come to be? In late November, Congress lifted a five-year ban on funding for inspections of horse slaughterhouses, which allows butchering for human consumption. No U.S. slaughterhouses currently butcher horses for consumption, and the last slaughterhouse in the country closed in 2007 in Illinois, the Associated Press reports.

Observers say it’s likely that horse meat butchered in the U.S. would be shipped to other countries where the meat is already in demand, rather than become widely available at U.S. restaurants and stores.

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