I wrote somewhere recently that my family ‘ate well’ when I was a child, which prompted my mum to send me a text saying, “what? fish fingers and Findus crispy pancakes?” There’s no denying it, I was more than partial to a Findus or five, along with Mr. Brain’s faggots and many products from the repertoire of Birdseye. The minced beef crispy pancakes were my favourite, or, should I say, the minced beef and horse. That is of course if Findus were (unwittingly perhaps) using (maybe) horse meat in their pancakes at that time.
I clearly got a taste for hossie during those formative years as I was salivating at the thought of recreating these pancakes. 100% horse meat, mind. No beef for me! Incidentally, anyone who was under the impression that using horse meat is a money saving exercise, let me correct you – 250g of that finest filly set me (my boyfriend) back £5 and I bought 500g so that’s – all together now – a whopping £20 per kg! It’s probably cheaper online but we bought ours at Borough Market like impatient money-spaffing chumps.
We cooked that steed down with onions, celery and a bit of Old Bay seasoning, then slung in some red wine, beef stock and Worcestershire sauce. Despite my best efforts to thicken the sauce with cornflour I couldn’t get QUITE the same gloop-ooziness (technical term) as displayed within the originals but rest assured there was enough gravy in there to spurt out liquid with third degree burn capability. Authentic.
The filling is clamped inside regular pancakes, which proved a challenge until I started to channel my inner child once again to form a kind of glue with egg and a sprinkling of flour. That worked. I had demanded the boyfriend buy the necessary dyed orange crumb for the proper oompa loompa hue on the outside, and then it was just a case of frying in hot oil.
The similarity of the final product to the original pancakes a la Findoos was astounding. My boyfriend had never had them because he’s too posh but I was all like, ‘WOAH NELLY!’ Yeah it was kind of unnerving, but then horse really does taste a hella lot like beef.
100% Horse Meat Crispy Pancakes in The Style of Findus
For the pancakes
For the filling
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
500g horse meat, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
300ml beef stock
Splash red wine
Splash Worcestershire sauce, or two
1 teaspoon corn flour
Breadcrumbs, to coat the pancakes
Oil, for frying
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Sprinkle paprika (optional)
Sift the flour into a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Crack the egg into the middle and whisk it in to make a weird crumbly mixture. Add the milk a bit at a time, whisking, until smooth.It should be the consistency of single cream. Cover and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat some veg oil in a pan and soften the onion and celery gently until the onion is translucent. Add the Old Bay and garlic and cook out for a few minutes, stirring. Add the horse meat and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon until brown. Add the Worcestershire sauce and red wine and allow to bubble. Mix the cornflour with a splash of the stock until smooth and add to the pan with the remaining stock. Allow to cook until the meat is coated with a thick and glossy gravy. Allow this to cool while you make the pancakes.
Wipe a small frying pan with oil and add enough pancake batter to cover the base of the pan, swirling it around to cover. When cooked on the bottom, flip em. Repeat.
To assemble the pancakes, spread one plate with seasoned flour, then to the right of it get yourself a large shallow dish with the two beaten eggs in it, and to the right of that, spread another plate with the breadcrumbs (we sprinkled a little paprika into ours but it’s not necessary). Feel free to do this the other way around if you’re left handed. Uh huh.
Put a couple of tablespoons of filling on one side of the pancake, then fold it over. Brush the edges with beaten egg, then sprinkle on some flour. Stick it down with your fingers.
Heat oil to the depth of about 3cm in a frying pan. Dip the sealed pancake first in flour, then egg, then crumbs. Fry for about a minute each side. They really didn’t take any longer than this. Drain on kitchen paper. Repeat.