August 31, 2011
I haven’t made this for quite a while – possibly not since I worked in a gastro pub 15 years ago, where I made 4 or 5 huge ones each week. They were sold as cooked in Guinness, but actually it was a mixture of beer, the ullage – waste beer that wasn’t sold, because it was spilled during pouring (it wasn’t customer leftovers). I know, it doesn’t sound very appetising, but actually, it was clean and got cooked for a long time, resulting in a very good pie!
Steak and Kidney Pie recipe (serves 4):
1 and 1/2 lb stewing steak (chopped)
3/4 pound of lambs kidneys (cleaned and chopped)
2 medium to large onions (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (finely chopped)
2 carrots (finely chopped)
6 button mushrooms (finely chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
a pinch of crushed chilli (optional)
ground sea salt, black peppercorns, rosemary, sage and thyme
2 bay leaves
4 dessertspoons of tomato purée
a large squirt of anchovy paste
1/2 a pint of beef stock
1 pint of ale or stout
1 dessertspoon or red wine vinegar
1 or 2 dessertspoons of balsamic vinegar
flour for coating the meat and extra (if needed) to thicken the sauce
a teaspoon of mustard powder
a spoonful of goose fat
olive oil as needed for frying
1 beaten egg
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb home made pastry
Normally I’d use ox kidney for this recipe, but the butcher only had fresh lamb’s kidneys so they seemed the right choice. Kidneys have a liver like consistency – they are used by the body to clean the blood and make urine, so they do have a slight smell. For this reason, kidneys go well with rich strong flavours and their taste mellows with slow cooking. Should you wish to, you can soak them for an hour in salty water or poach them gently in milk – neither of which is necessary for this recipe.
First of all, remove any suet around the kidney and the very thin membrane around it (it will easily pull off) – a good butcher will do this for you (if asked) and often they come cleaned. Next, trim out all the white interior (see my picture of a butterflied kidney above) and chop the kidneys up into bite sized pieces. Normally stewing steak is pre chopped, but it’s worth checking that the pieces are small enough.
Put a few large spoonfuls of flour onto a plate, along with a teaspoon of mustard powder and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Mix all that up with a spoon and then dust the steak and kidneys with the seasoned flour.
Using a large cast iron casserole , lightly brown the meat in goose fat and olive oil. Do this in batches
and remove it from the casserole to a plate.
Once the meat is all browned, fry some onions with a pinch of chilli in the casserole (add more oil if necessary). When the onions go translucent,
add the celery, carrots and garlic. Chop up the mushrooms and stir them in,
before returning the meat to the pan.
Pour in half the pint of beer (I recommend you use one you really like the taste of – in my case, Directors),
the beef stock (mine was home made with leftover beef gravy), three desert spoons of tomato purée, a squirt of anchovy paste, the ground herbs, bay leaves and a splash of red wine vinegar. Bring the casserole up to simmering point, give it a good stir and put the lid on, before moving it to a pre heated oven at 120º C for an hour.
When the steak and kidney has had an hour in the oven, take the casserole out and taste it. I added a dessertspoonful of balsamic vinegar, a little more tomato purée and the remaining beer. I also added the seasoned flour, left over from coating the meat. The flour will look a bit lumpy at first, but it will dissolve in the oven. Flour thickens liquid with heat, so don’t add too much at once, you can always add more later. Return the casserole to the oven for another hour.
After two hours of cooking, remove the steak and kidney mixture and taste again – it should be thick and rich – look for a little sweetness from the onion and tomato, plus a slight sharpness from the vinegar, not to mention a little heat from the chilli. Do go by what you like, in terms of tasting. I added a splash more balsamic vinegar. Allow the pie filling to cool before transferring it to a greased (buttered) pie dish. The steak and kidney filling can be frozen, or left until tomorrow in the fridge – it does age well as the flavours mingle.
Take the pastry out of the fridge and on a floured board, roll out a rectangular piece that is about half an inch (all round) larger than the pie dish. Roll the pastry back on your rolling pin and lift it onto the dish. Fold in the edges, press all the way round with your fingers and make a nice indented pattern (around the edge) with the back of a fork.
Cut out a decoration from any leftover pastry (if you are feeling artistic). Beat an egg and brush the pie lid, all over – seal the edges too!
I put my cow on top with another coating of egg. Make six, or so, holes in the pastry with a knife or fork, to allow hot air to escape, or the pastry will break during baking.
Bake in a preheated oven at 220º C for about 30 – 40 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with mashed potato and seasonal vegetables.