It is totally possible that you have also heard of this classic Belgian dish before. Credits for that go to the BBC’s Hairy Bikers, 2 crazy foodies with a fondness for motorcycles and food. Dave and Si are British television presenters who have made a bunch of series about food all over the world ever since.
I also love to watch them cook and bicker. They are absolutely bonkers. And hilarious. Last time I watched them on Netflix they were in Asia. Or was it the series about chicken and how people like to prepare chicken all over the world?
Blind Finches (Belgian Blinde Vinken)
Anyway, in one of their earliest series one of their bike tours brought them to Belgium. And because Dave and Si are here for food, they came across this old-fashioned comfort food. Back then they translated this dish literally and called it ’blind finch’, which is ’blinde vink’ in Flemish. Headless birds is another name these beef parcels sometimes end up with.
There’s no fixed recipe for these classic blind finches. I prepared it the way I like my blinde vinken best. But that light beer sauce is a true must, no joke!
This is Belgian beer cuisine: what else did you expect?
My recipe asks for large thin beef slices. I always use beef carpaccio to make these blind finches: carpaccio is super thin and just perfect to wrap the beef mince in. Or you can ask your butcher to slice it for you!
This recipe makes me think of a similar recipe: my Italian braciole di manzo beef parcels in tomato sauce!
For The Blind Finches
- 8 thin slices beef
- 9 oz ground beef (250 g)
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 shallot chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tbsp garlic chopped
- In a saucepan melt the butter and add the chopped garlic and shallots.
- Cook over low heat for 5 minutes until the shallot is soft. Then put it aside to cool. In a mixing bowl add the beef mince, chopped parsley and cooled shallot and garlic mixture. Season with pepper and salt to taste.
- Knead the ingredients well. Then taste the beef and add extra pepper or salt if necessary.
- Divide the mince into 8 even portions. Mine were more or less 1 ½ oz (50 g) each. Put a thin slice of beef on a chopping board and place a portion of the mince in the middle. Sprinkle with a little pepper.
- Cover with one side of the beef slice.
- Now fold the other side over the beef. Then wrap the rest of the filling and put the finished parcels on a clean plate.
For The Beer Sauce
- 1 ½ cup amber beer (375 ml)
- fresh rosemary or sage and thyme
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tsp worcester sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sauce thickener optional
- Add the butter to a large non-stick pan and melt it over medium heat. Then add the beef parcels (folded side down).
- Brown the beef for 4 minutes and then turn them over.
- Cook the parcels for another 3 minutes. Then add the amber beer and whatever fresh herbs you want to use.
- Then put a lid on the pan and gently simmer the beer for 20 minutes to reduce the sauce. Turn the beef parcels regularly.
Discard the herbs. Then add the worcester sauce to the beer sauce and stir. Check the seasoning and add extra pepper, salt or worcester sauce to taste. Add sauce thickener if you like. Therefore transfer the blind finches to a plate and cover with tinfoil. Stir in a tablespoon of sauce thickener (or plain flour) to the pan and turn the heat up. When the sauce starts to thicken a little, add the blind finches again and cook them for another 2 minutes. Then transfer the blind finches onto plates and drizzle with the beer sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.