One of those dishes that if it were it a regional speciality of France, say, or of Northern Italy, it would be the subject of fierce pride and equally fierce debate. There would be festivals in its honour marked as much by arguments over its correct recipe as by its large-scale consumption.
As it is, though, Haslet is nearly forgotten, at least outside of what seems to be its spiritual home of Lincolnshire – good old pig-farming country. Like many such recipes it is very regional, particular to Boston (Lincolnshire) and, strangely, to parts of the south-east. My mother, whose uncle was a butcher in Darlington, had never heard of it, while a young colleague of mine in Kent used to eat a slice a day.
Originally Haslet seems to have been synonymous with ‘offal’ or perhaps ‘pluck’ – a.k.a., the heart, liver, and lungs – referring to the edible organs of animals in general and, in particular, those of the pig before becoming attached to this dish.
Often described as a sort of Meatloaf, I think of it more in the vein of a country terrine composed as it is of pork meat and a greater or lesser proportion of its titular offal.
Some recipes I have read use only lean minced pork, spiced quite heavily with the British Charcutier’s trinity of pepper, nutmeg and sage.
I like to use a mix of shoulder, heart and liver; the slightly fattier meat means a little less bread and milk is needed to bind everything together, while the lean offal gives it the necessary tang.
Written by Thom Eagle
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