This historically significant dish may not be as common as it once was amongst Canadians but historically it was as common to Newfoundlander’s as well as other Northern and Atlantic Canadians as pizza is to culture today. It is still favoured and considered a delicacy by traditionalists and those still involved in the seal hunt today.
The dish is basically served like any type of meat pie. Containing meat (seal), root vegetables and gravy in a pastry crust.
- 4 Seal flippers – Paws & fat removed
- Cured salt pork fat – Diced as well as 4 small strips
- 3 large carrots – Diced
- 1 Parsnip – Diced
- 1 cup of peas – uncooked
- 1 Stalk of celery – Diced
- 1/2 Small turnip – Diced
- 1 Large Onion – Diced
- 1 Regular Beer
- 4 Tbs Vinegar
- 2 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce
- Other ingedients for a pastry (Not going into detail on the pie crust here, google it)
If the flippers haven’t been cleaned, remove paws, any remaining fur and visible fat (fat can be more easily seen after soaked in water with baking soda for an hour).
Once cleaned place the flippers in a shallow dish and cover with just enough boiling water to cover the flippers, mixing in the vinegar. This will tenderize and soften the meat.
After an hour, remove the flippers and pat dry with paper towels. Dredge the flippers in flour to get a light dustry coating. Heat a roasting pan on a burner with butter and diced pork fat. Brown the flippers, being careful not to burn them in the butter and pork fat. When sificiantly brown, remove the pan from the heat and 1 cup of beer and 1 cup of water to the pan to de-glaze. I’d use a regular beer as a light beer would be easily overpowered by the seal and also chose one that isn’t too hoppy and that would give the gravy an off taste. Place a salted pork fat strip over each flipper and add onions and celery.
Place the lid on the roaster and place in the over at 200 degrees Celsius for 2 hours or until well browned / cooked. You may need to check on the flippers every half hour or so and add more water as necessary. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook carrots, parsnip and turnip for 20 minutes or until semi-soft.
Once flippers are out of the oven, remove them from the roaster and procede to pull the meat off the bone and shred into bite sized portions. For the gravy you may need to add more liquid. I would suggest making a stock out of the removed seal bones by boiling them in a sauce pan with water for 30 minutes, or you may use the pot liqour from the vegetables, beef stock, a 50/50 mix of water and remaining beer (if not drank already), or plain water (Wheres your desire for flavour?). Add flour to the gravy and bring to simmer while stirring to thicken.
For the pie crust use your favourite recipe or google one up. You can whip together real simple with water, flour, egg and shortening. Roll out bottom crust and pie crust topping. Fit the crust into a large baking dish and pour in a mix of the shredded seal meat, vegetables, peas and gravy. Place the crust topper over the surface of the ingedients and fold/seal edges.
Place the completed dish into the over again at 200 degrees celcius for a half hour or until crust is golden brown and crispy. Be careful not to burn. Wait until cool before serving, carve each piece out with a knife and use a pie server, ladle or large spoon to serve intact.
I like mine served in a fairly traditional way. Over/with mashed potatoes, boiled cabbage and greens; with mustard pickles and homemade cranberry jelly to top it off. Beer is not optional.