Ah, meat. The most tantalizing and controversial of alimentary delights. For centuries, people of all cultures have been enthralled by the savory flavors of succulent cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and more. Whether grilled, roasted, or fried, these savory morsels of protein-rich sustenance offer an unparalleled culinary experience.
At the same time, the world has become increasingly conscious of the environmental and social implications of our carnivorous cravings. A glance at the statistics reveals why: Meat production accounts for nearly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In addition, animal agriculture topics such as animal welfare, antibiotic resistance, and deforestation have become hot-button issues among consumers and producers alike.
Despite this awareness, there are some benefits to eating meat that shouldn’t be overlooked. Well-balanced diets rich in lean proteins can play a key role in protecting against chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. In addition, the dietary needs of many cultures and religions require the consumption of certain types of meat.
Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide whether or not to partake of meat. However, choosing to do so comes with a certain level of responsibility. Opting for sustainable and humanely raised meats when available helps ensure that the impacts of our decisions on the animals, people, and planet are minimized. With thoughtful consideration of these issues, we can continue to enjoy the tantalizing flavors of top-notch steak, poultry, and other forms of meat while still doing our part to create a greener and more just future.
A selection of Meat dishes.
Goulash (also known as gulyás, gulyas or gulas) is a classic Hungarian soup that has gained tremendous renown across the world. Its unique fusion of savory broth and hearty chunks of beef, potatoes and vegetables has proved irresistible to generations of food lovers.Goulash
Borscht—a traditional dish of Eastern European ancestry and a sure favorite among many. Its humble beginnings are rooted in Ukraine, where it's been enjoyed for centuries as a nourishing, comforting bowl of nature's best ingredients. But what is borscht?Borscht
Guanciale is a unique and flavorful Italian delicacy whose culinary origins can be traced back centuries. The dish is composed of cured pig jowl and is typically served in thin slices and enjoyed with pasta, vegetables, and other accompaniments. The flavor of Guanciale has been described as “pungent” and “earthy” with an almost “smoky” hint. This is due to the curing process which involves salt, pepper, and other spices being used to bring out the best flavors.Guanciale
Ah, mortadella. Part of the classic Italian culinary trifecta of cured meats, along with prosciutto and salami, it is a delightful mixture of pork and spices, often served chilled or at room temperature. Despite its popularity in the United States, this wobbly, partially cooked delight has been part of the Italian culinary lexicon for centuries, and while you can now find it all over the world, it was born in the Italian city of Bologna, which, coincidentally, is where the name "mortadella" comes from.Mortadella
As a connoisseur of Vietnamese cuisine, I cannot overstate the scrumptiousness of Bun bo Hue. This mighty dish originated in the ancient city of Hue, located in central Vietnam, and consists of a savory broth that is spiced to perfection with a balance of lemongrass and chili paste. The base of the soup is rice vermicelli, topped with a generous helping of thinly sliced beef shank and pork knuckle. If you’re lucky enough to find it, there may even be an additional topping of beef blood cubes, or sanguine slices as some call it.Bun bo Hue
Ah, the delectable machaca – a Mexican dish that is both savory and scrumptious. It consists of smoked, shredded beef (or, in some cases, pork) that is simmered in a variety of herbs and spices. Machaca is a versatile dish – it can be enjoyed as breakfast tacos, burritos, or as a stand-alone entrée.Machaca
Braciole are a delectable Italian delight that have been tantalizing palettes for centuries. A staple of traditional Italian cuisine, braciole are usually made with thin slices of beef, pork, or veal that are rolled up with various combinations of cheese, eggs, and herbs inside and then seared in a pan with olive oil or butter. This scrumptious entree can be served as an appetizer, main course, or side dish, making it exceptionally versatile and adaptable to a variety of culinary situations.Braciole
Mouths began to water as the succulent smell of Japanese-style barbecue drifted through the restaurant, Yakiniku slowly joining the conversation of gustatory delight. This classic dish – literally meaning “grilled meat” – is a timeless favorite of Japan, offering a satisfyingly savory meal.Yakiniku
Cacciatore (Italian for "hunter-style") is a savoury and tantalizing Italian dish hailing from the regions of Rome and Florence. It is a hearty and robust one-pot dish made with a base of tomatoes, onions and peppers, and traditionally includes the addition of mushrooms, olives and herbs such as oregano, rosemary and thyme. The list of ingredients might vary between different families and home cooks, but the end result is always infused with an irresistible aroma that will bring smiles to all who try it.Cacciatore
I first tried Oca while visiting a small village at the base of the Andes Mountains in Peru. I was immediately enthralled by the unique combination of flavors and textures this dish offered. A warm corn-based stew, thickened with pureed beans and potatoes, was enhanced with earthy, aromatic spices and alluringly fragrant herbs.Oca
When I first stumbled upon the dish Lonza, I was taken aback by the uniqueness of its composition. This delectable Italian creation consists of cured pork loin, layered with bay leaves and seasoned with garlic, pepper, and spices. After being vacuum sealed and air-dried, the pork is known for its succulence and tender texture.Lonza
Prosciutto cotto, an Italian delight that is as savory and delicious as it is versatile. This delectable ham preparation can be used in a variety of applications; from antipasti, to sandwiches, to the plate, Prosciutto cotto goes beyond just being a condiment.Prosciutto cotto
Veal Milanese has a distinct flavor that sets it apart from other Italian dishes. Heralding from Milan, Italy, it is a succulent dish of breaded veal cutlet, fried in butter and finished off with a sharp lemon squeeze and a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.Veal Milanese
If you’re a fan of Italian cuisine, chances are that you’ve heard of the dish Salsiccia. This savory and succulent dish is comprised of sausage, pork, fennel, and other spices all melded together to create a truly delectable experience. It’s no wonder that the dish has become a worldwide staple in many restaurants and households.Salsiccia
Known around the world for its hearty flavor, salame is a classic Italian delicacy that is sure to please any discerning palate. This sumptuous meat-centric dish has been enjoyed in Italy for centuries, and its history dates back to the ancient Roman Empire. Crafted with a collection of select ingredients including pork, beef, red wine, and spices, this savory sausage is one of the most beloved Italian staples and is an integral part of the regional cuisine.Salame
Vitello is a dish of Italian-style roast veal that is tender, succulent and incredibly flavorful. The central component of this dish is its use of the highest quality veal cut - the loin or the rump of the calf. It takes the shape of a butterflied veal roast and can come with a variety of accompaniments.Vitello
The scaloppine, a succulent Italian dish of veal cutlet pounded thin and then served in a variety of appetizing sauces, is a salivating treat. It is a classic dish that has been delighting taste buds for centuries; the origins of the dish dating back to the early fifteenth century, when it was first mentioned in the writings of a renowned Italian gastronome.Scaloppine
Ah, Capicollo. There is something magically delicious yet irrevocably indulgent about this Italian cured-pork dish. From its origins in the city of Calabria to its dissemination throughout the world, the sublime marriage between spicy and succulent flavors is a hallmark of any well-crafted kitchen.Capicollo
Ah, the blissful joy of Cotoletta alla milanese! This beloved Italian dish is a feast for the senses. From its beautiful golden-brown fried exterior to its succulent tender interior, it's enough to make even the most discerning palate salivate with anticipation.Cotoletta alla milanese
The Tourtière, a traditional French-Canadian dish that's often referred to as a "meat pie," is a delightful culinary staple. This savory and hearty dish is usually served during the winter months and has been delighting hungry bellies for centuries. By combining the best of both French and Canadian cuisines, the Tourtière is an amalgam of culinary excellence.Tourtière
Trippa alla Romana is an extraordinary dish hailing from Rome, Italy. It's a savory yet succulent offering that tantalizes the taste buds with a complex combination of flavors. At its core, Trippa alla Romana is made with cow tripe, a type of sausage-like organ meat, cooked in a tomato-based sauce and served with a wedge of lemon.Trippa alla Romana
Ah, braciolone. This classic Italian dish is one of those rare culinary delights that manages to be both deeply comforting and endlessly fascinating. For the unfamiliar, the name comes from the Italian word braciola meaning “slice of meat”, and describes a large-scale rolled preparation of typically beef or veal stuffed with a variety of flavourful fillings.Braciolone
Ah, rosticciana. A Tuscan specialty loved and enjoyed by folks worldwide. This tempting dish is made of pork ribs that have been marinated in a unique blend of herbs and spices, then slow-cooked until the meat is juicy and tender. The marinade itself is a carefully crafted combination of garlic, rosemary, fennel seeds, and other aromatic spices that create a flavor profile that is mouthwateringly delicious.Rosticciana
Carne Pizzaiola is an Italian classic—a succulent and savory dish that is as comforting as it is simple. Simmered in a simple tomato sauce, this dish of pieces of beef, usually cut from the top round or sirloin, develops an irresistibly robust flavor that will tantalize even the most discerning palate.Carne Pizzaiola
Ah, Cotechino Modena. There is truly nothing quite like it on this heavenly blue marble we call Earth. It is an Italian dish that has been a staple in the culinary repertoire since at least the 16th century. Yet its unique piquancy endures today as masterfully as when it first graced tables centuries ago.Cotechino Modena
Abbacchio alla Cacciatora is a truly sublime dish that is as unique as it is delectable. Originating in Italy, this scrumptious speciality is based around baby lamb, known locally as abbacchio. The dish itself is one of hearty, rustic charm and goes to show that the simplest ingredients, when combined with patience and skill, can yield exquisite results.Abbacchio alla Cacciatora
Ah, the Rundstück warm! It is a delectable German dish that has been tantalizing palettes since the Middle Ages. A traditional fare of the Bavarian region, this savory entrée is composed of a variety of ingredients that combine to form a truly exquisite experience.Rundstück warm
Speck Alto Adige PGI is a delicacy from the region of Trentino-Alto Adige, in northern Italy. It is an aged, air-dried ham with a unique flavor and texture due to the region's alpine climate. The mild yet distinctive taste of this cured meat is sure to tantalize the taste buds of even the most discerning foodie.Speck Alto Adige PGI
Abbacchio brodettato is a classic Italian dish that is sure to tantalize the taste buds of all food connoisseurs. This delectable main course features tender pieces of spring lamb cooked in a savory white wine sauce blended with garlic, onion, celery, and other flavorful ingredients.Abbacchio brodettato
Meat is an incredible ingredient that has been used in cuisines from all over the world for centuries. It can be the centerpiece of a meal or the star of the side dish, adding a robust flavor, protein and nutritional value to any dish.
When cooking with meat, there are a multitude of food pairings that can be used to create meals bursting with flavor. A great way to pair meats is by combining them with culinary components that will enhance their flavors, like herbs, spices, veggies, and starches. For example, a light white fish dish paired with citrus, herbs, and butter can yield an incredibly flavorful, wholesome meal. Similarly, a rich red meat dish can be enhanced by pairing it with mushrooms, dried fruits, and white wine. The possibilities are endless!
When it comes to creating meat-centric dishes, there are a plethora of delicious options to choose from. Roast beef, beef stew, and beef bourguignon are all popular, hearty entrées that satisfy even the heartiest of appetites. Ground beef dishes, such as lasagna, shepherd’s pie, and tacos also offer an array of exciting flavor combinations. Other flavors straight from the grill can be found in burgers, kebabs, and steaks.
When it comes to poultry, chicken is king. Roasted chickens, honey-glazed chickens, chicken parmesan and a variety of other scrumptious bird-based dishes all make for fantastic meals. Turkey and duck can also be used in a multitude of ways, whether broiled, baked, or fried.
Finally, let’s not forget about pork. Pork is incredibly versatile and pairs wonderfully with a plethora of ingredients. Pork chops, spare ribs, braised pork, and pulled pork sandwiches are just a few examples of the tantalizing dishes that can be made with this delectable meat.
Regardless of which meats you choose, there is something special about creating a meal that contains a delicious and nutritious piece of meat. With the right pairings and the right recipe, you can easily craft a collection of mouthwatering, crowd-pleasing dishes.
The human affinity for meat has been a contentious topic for time immemorial. From the fanciest five-star restaurants to humble homesteads in rural backwaters, there is no mistaking that our species has a passionate predilection for a good portion of protein. This predilection has served us well by enabling us to access valuable nutrition and reap the gustatory rewards. But where does this meaty mania originate?
Recent archeological evidence has heartened the anthropological community when it comes to understanding the source of our carnivorous cravings. Homo erectus, one of our earliest ancestors, is believed to have unleashed their inner omnivore around 2 million years ago. It would seem their diet was comprised of both plant-based and animal-based fare, with the latter comprising a substantial proportion. This has been confirmed using fossilized remains, isotope studies and even ancient tools which may have been used to cut up animal carcasses. All these indicators suggest a strong penchant for meat.
Though carnivorism certainly predates Homo erectus, the emergence of this species marks a deviation in the dietary pattern of hominids; one which has continued until this day. Whether it was out of necessity or an acquired taste, it is apparent that Homo erectus was able to take advantage of their newfound source of nutrition. Over time, other hominid species followed suit and the advent of cooking around 400,000 years ago improved their capacity to extract further energy from meat-based foods. This enabled them to lead a more sedentary lifestyle and paved the way for the development of cultures requiring high-energy inputs.
A healthy dose of speculation can be found in this discourse. Did Homo erectus' meaty proclivities stem from their predatory instincts? Did the opportunity to exploit a new source of food prove too tantalizing to resist? Whatever the reason, it seems clear that our species' voracious appetite for animals has been with us since the dawn of tool-using man. While modern sensibilities may sometimes frown upon excessive consumption of flesh, there is no denying that meat-based diets have provided us with sustenance and allowed us to progress to where we are today.