Blind Finches in Beer Gravy (yes, that’s real food)

I come across recipes now and again where the name of the dish is either unappealing, non-food like or just downright weird. The Scots are particularly good at this, as I was reminded yesterday with their invention of a “Stonner” which is basically a sausage, wrapped in kebab meat, dipped in batter and deep-fried (of course). Why anyone would actually choose to eat this 1000 calorie gut-ripper is beyond me, but apparently many do.

This being Friday Food, I often work out what I’m actually going to cook at the end of the week way in advance. I came across the recipe for Blind Finches from the fabulous Hairy Bikers who not only cook some of the most down-to-earth comfort food this side of the Two Fat Ladies, but the way they write is superb. For part of this dish I have to “bash the living daylights” out of the steak – basically flatten it until it is very thin. Blind Finches are not, as you may assume, related to birds of any sort. They are in fact parcels of spiced pork mince wrapped first in parma ham and then in very thinly rolled steak. They are first browned then slowly braised in, you’ve guessed it, beer along with shallots and a few other bits and pieces. I have to say, even though when cooked they do resemble little headless birds a bit (I assume this is how they got their name) they are absolutely fantastic.

So, rather than keep this Friday Food treat to myself, I thought I’d reproduce the recipe here. Enjoy.


For the filling
250g/9oz minced pork
1 free-range egg yolk
1 tsp dried sage
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh curly parsley
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the steak
8 thin slices Parma ham, or equivalent
4 x 85g/3oz sirloin steaks, flattened with a meat mallet or rolling pin to about 5mm thick
25g/1oz butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
12 shallots, quartered
salt and freshly ground black pepper
150ml/5fl oz good quality Belgian beer or ale (I used Leffe Blonde)
For the beurre manié (to thicken)
50g/2oz butter
2 tsp flour


1. For the filling, place all the filling ingredients into a large bowl and mix together.
2. For the steak, place a slice of ham on top of each piece of flattened steak and top with a quarter of the filling.
3. Fold the steak over the filling and tuck the ends in to make a parcel. Tie with cooking string to help keep in shape.
4. Heat the butter and the oil until hot, but not smoking, in a large frying pan.
5. Add the meat parcels and cook for about ten minutes, until browned all over.
6. Remove the meat from the pan and add the shallots. Cook for about five minutes, until brown.
7. Return the meat to the pan, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the beer. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer for ten minutes. Turn the meat over and simmer for another 8-10 minutes. Place the meat parcels onto a warm plate and set aside.
7. For the beurre manié, blend the butter and the flour with a fork, then gradually whisk the beurre manié into the gravy to thicken it. Add more beer if the gravy is too thick.
8. Pour the gravy over the meat and serve.


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