Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Quorn & More on US Beef

Adapted Mexican Meat-zza made with Quorn grounds.

I cooked up an adapted version of Rachael Ray's Mexican Meat-zza last night using Quorn Grounds, a vegatarian alternative to beef. It comes in 12 oz. packages and, according to the manufacturer, can be "sauté[d], bake[d], or microwave[d ...] as you would ground beef or other similar meatless product."

The grounds look very similar to cooked ground beef, although there were a number of frozen clumps that had to be broken up before cooking. It heats up fairly quickly (5 minutes over med-high heat) and is pretty flavorless.

The kids had no idea they weren't eating beef until I told them (I think they thought I'd forgotten about our swearing off of beef and chose not to remind me). Shane liked it as well, but I found it bland (though as Kevin pointed out, I'm suffering from mad-about-not-eating-cow disease).

Quorn grounds before thawing (notice the clumps).

Quorn grounds, with seasonings, after cooking.

On a related topic, I just read the following on (I am obsessed with it). Keep in mind that this was written one year ago, before the USDA further reduced its testing for Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (Mad Cow Disease):

Is it safe to eat U.S. beef?
Since the Department of Agriculture currently tests only 1 percent of all cows slaughtered in the U.S., compared with 25 percent in Europe and 100 percent in Japan, we do not have reliable information on the safety of beef in this country. Until more information is available, individuals need to make a judgment about their risk tolerance, according to Consumers Union’s food-safety experts. If eating beef is not very important to you, you might want to forgo it until more is known. If you want to eat beef, you can limit your risk by avoiding the foods most likely to carry mad cow disease: brains and processed beef products that may contain nervous-system tissue, such as hamburger, hot dogs, and sausage. Organic, biodynamic, or 100 percent grass-fed beef carries the least risk, since the cattle are not fed any animal remains. Steak and hamburger that's ground while you watch are also lower-risk.

Is the U.S. doing everything possible to guard against an epidemic of mad cow disease? Consumers Union believes the federal government should take added steps to end practices that could undermine the safety of meat. "The U.S. needs to be far more pro-active in protecting the American food supply," says Mike Hansen, PhD, senior research associate at Consumers Union, which has been fighting for the following changes for years.

Screen far more cattle for the disease. The U.S. tested some 370,000 cows between June 1, 2004, and May 31, 2005, out of a total herd of about 97 million, of which 37 million were slaughtered. By contrast, in Europe every single animal above a given age gets tested.

Outlaw the feeding of the remains of any mammal to any animals that humans eat.

Tighten the law on dietary supplements; it currently allows supplements to contain material from the animal parts most likely to contain the mutant protein.

Require doctors and hospitals to report all cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Acme Instant Food said...

I've never heard of Quorn. I'll have to try it at least once...just to say. I have taken to grinding my own meats now using an attachment for my Kitchenaid. I realize that in itself is no guarantee of safety, but it does at least provide less exposure to bacteria and such (and it's tastier!) We love eating rare burgers and store-ground beef doesn't lend itself to that.

You know, it's easy to understand why so many people choose to continue sleeping with Prince Valium rather than open their eyes to the issues of food safety here in the U.S. The more you know, the more you squirm. I miss the good ol' days.

Thanks again Laura Rebecca for making your "Kitchen" an informative and entertaining place to visit.

Laura Rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Laura Rebecca said...

Quorn is freaky food science (I'm sure the company would love to read that). Here's a quote from their site about mycoprotien (the fungi that Quorn is made from):

"The benefits of mycoprotein as a major ingredient in meat alternative products derive from the shape and size of the hyphae. It is not via any solution properties, since mycoprotein is not soluble nor does it give rise to any soluble components. This is the result of the heat treatment experienced during the RNA reduction process, which renders the protein component insoluble."

See what I mean? That's a lot more complicated than "raise cow on grass, kill, butcher, make delicious porterhouse steaks.

I'm happy to eat organic beef, though Shane is on the fence about it being safer. I'm hoping that after reading that blurb, he'll be on board (moving has left us little time to discuss anything but moving). I'd like to make my about cheddar bacon cheeseburger fantasies a reality again.

(PS:Thank you for the kind words. PPS: Prince Valium is HOT! )

Acme Instant Food said...

Wow--In N' Out Burgers should sell Quorn Burgers. They could reprint that statement on the menu and watch those suckers just sail right out the door. *ugh*

On another note--try not to stress too much on the move. I remember that this is easier said than done as we just moved last year. As always, just remember to b.r.e.a.t.h.e.

Stephanie said...

Personally, I find the Morningstar Farms Crumbles to be much better than Quorn's; much better flavor. I've used them in all sorts of things, for tacos, chili, you name it.

Laura Rebecca said...

Thanks for the tip, Stephanie! I have to look for those. I've been really impressed with their "sausage" patties.