'Blind Finches' in beer gravy (Blinde Vinken)

Nothing to do with little birds with eyesight problems, but a lovely ancient Belgium dish that we cooked for the finch fanciers of Hulste. It makes a great family supper dish with proper Belgium chips (we all love gravy with our chips).


Prep time
30 minutes to 1 hour
Cooking time
10 to 30 minutes


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

  • 4 thin slices boiled ham
  • 4 x 85g / 3oz sirloin steaks, flattened with a meat mallet or rolling pin
  • 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

For the beurre manie (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.

  8. For the beurre manie, blend the butter and the flour with a fork, then gradually whisk the beurre manie into the gravy to thicken it. Add more beer if the gravy is too thick.

  9. Pour the gravy over the meat and serve.