Among the many traditional Canadian foods flipper pie has earned a place of its own. It’s made in households from all over Newfoundland and Labrador during the Lent period (from April through May) while the harp seal hunting season lasts.
Though the dish is not without controversy, mostly surrounding the hunting of seals, it has been a staple part of the cuisine of the local communities since the 1500s. As more sustainable practices are implemented to protect the seals, many people continue to enjoy this delicious pie. If ever you’re in the region, it’s definitely one you don’t want to miss!
For the filling:
- 4 seal flippers
- 4 cups water for soaking the flippers
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup fat pork diced
- 1 cup water for the gravy
- 2 onions chopped
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- flour for dipping the flippers
For the pastry dough:
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 cup cold water
- 1/3 cup butter cold
- 1 tsp salt
- Begin by removing all then excess fat from the flippers and place them in a bowl with 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Leave them to soak for about 30 minutes.
- While the flippers are soaking, we'll prepare the pastry dough. Place 1 ½ cups of flour in a bowl along with the cold butter and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Start mixing thoroughly by hand.
- Gradually add the cold water while kneading until you get a soft sandy dough.
- Roll out the dough out into a circle on a clean floured surface and use it to line a 10-inch pie pan. Set aside to chill in the fridge while we continue with the pie filling.
- Drain the seal flippers and dry them well on kitchen paper. Dip the flippers in salted flour and place in a pan together with the diced fat pork to brown.
- Once browned, add the chopped onion, 1 cup of water and the Worcestershire sauce. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper to your liking, cover and simmer on medium-low heat until tender (it should take about 1 hour).
- When the meat is almost done, preheat the oven to 300° F/ 150 °C.
- Once the meat has become tender, take the dough-lined pie pan out of the fridge and place the seal flipper mixture inside. Cover with dough and place in the oven for 15-30 minutes, until the pastry has turned golden.
- Leave to cool slightly before serving and enjoy!