Meat and Meat Recipes

It cannot be stressed just how important meat has been in both human evolution and human history. Meat allowed us to evolve large brains by giving us a high-engergy, high-protein food source that was easy to digest (the trade-off for our big brains was a shrinking of the length of the gut). Meat allowed our hunter-gatherer ancestors the luxury of lots of idle time. Time to tell stories, to be artistic and to invent.

The domestication of animals let to meat on demand and from that grew specialization in tasks which allowed diversification of the jobs human did and the beginnings of civilization. It's the consuming of meat that made human culture possible. Yet, as Europe moved into the Middle Ages, as land became owned by the aristocracy rather than the people meat became a rare commodity, only for the tables of the rich.

Thus we have the modern paradox. Meat commands a premium as meat requires more land to nurture than do crops. But the human digestive system has evolved to process meats. We are deficient in certain amino acids that we must derive from our food. And whilst a mix of beans and grains will provide us with those essential amino acids and it's possible to develop an extensive culture on this mix (as the Mesoamerican civilizations demonstrated) it's still easier for us to obtain these essential components from the meat in our diet.

And, yes, humans also crave meat. We crave the fats in meat and the taste of cooked meat. This is hard-wired into our brains and is an essential part of who we are, as omnivorous apes. We can deny that part of ourselves and live without meat, our brains let us do that. But our teeth are designed to eat meat and it is an essential part of what we want in our diet. After all why is the combination of meat and vegetables such an essential component of the meals of just about every civilization on earth (regardless of what, precisely, the meat component and the vegetable components of the diet may be).

Out teeth and our digestive systems allow us to eat just about anything and it's one reason we are so successful as a species and part of that success is the ability to eat that most nourishing of foods, meat. So, to celebrate the carnivorous side of our nature here's a classic recipe for beef steak:

Pepper Steak

Ingredients:

675g boneless steak, cut into cubes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
450ml strong beef stock
450g canned, diced, tomatoes (with juice)
200g chopped green bell pepper
100g chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp water

Method:
Add the oil to a large frying pan and cook the beef until browned then drain. Add the stock, tomatoes, green pepper, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings along with the beef to a pan then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Discard the bayleaf at this point.

Meanwhile combine the cornflour and water into a smooth slurry then stir into the mixture. Bring to a boil then cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes or until well thickened. Serve on a bed of rice or noodles.

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About The Author,
Dyfed Lloyd Evans runs the Celtnet Recipes where you will find hundreds of free meat dish recipes.