I suspect this dish was a success. The recipe I used was a combination of recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s The River Cottage Meat Book, and Nigella Lawson’s, How to be a Domestic Goddess. Fearnley-Whittingstall and Lawson are both british, and they both seem to really like steak and kidney pie. I don’t know if those two facts are related, but there you have it. The point is, I did not just make this up and hope for the best, or use the first recipe I found online, I used recipes from people who can speak with some authority regarding this classic English fare. That is why I suspect this dish was a success. The trouble is, I am not a fair or impartial judge because I don’t really like kidney, or at least I think I don’t, and when you think you don’t like something, it tends to bias you, or at least, that’s what it does to me.
I wanted to like it, it smelled fantastic, it looked delicious, the braising liquid in the pie thickened to a perfect, rich sauce and the muscle meat was a great texture, but in the end I just don’t think cow’s kidneys are for me. I’m willing to try again with lamb, but cow kidney just has a flavor I’m not crazy about. Talley didn’t fare too much better than I did on this one, although he did eat a bit more of it. Anyway, we’re posting this dish because it was fun to make, we learned a bit about preparing kidney, and we wanted to run a little with the offal theme.
Steak and Kidney Pie
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp English dry mustard
- 18 oz top round or chuck beef, cut into ¾ inch pieces
- 9 oz beef or lamb kidney, cut into chunks
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 5 oz portobello mushrooms, peeled and roughly chunked
- ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp beef stock
- ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp stout
- 1 scant Tbsp oyster sauce
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp of salt
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, frozen
- 6 Tbsp shortening, very cold
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 Tbsp vodka
- ice water
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 Tbsp milk or water
directions : If you buy whole kidneys, they must be skinned by removing the outer membrane. You must also remove the gristly central core, a sharp paring knife is helpful. Finish by chopping the kidneys into chunks.
Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Mix the flour and mustard in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Warm up a large dutch oven or cast iron pot on the stovetop, add a tablespoon or so of butter. Dredge the top round (or chuck) in the four mixture to coat, then toss into the hot pot. Brown the meat lumps on all sides and then remove it to a plate and set aside – you may have to do this in batches, so as not to crowd the pan. Once the muscle meat is done, coat the kidney chunks in the flour mixture and then brown them in the dutch oven, adding more butter as needed. Don’t let the pan get too hot or the flour/butter will burn. Once browned, remove the kidney to the plate with the rest of the meat. Next, add the chopped onion to the pot and fry for a few minutes before adding the mushrooms. Fry briefly, adding more fat if needed. Now, add the meat back to the pot. Add the stock, beer and oyster sauce and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and put it in your pre-heated oven for 2 hours. Once it’s cooked, check the seasoning and set aside to cool. It is common practice to set a braise like this aside in the fridge for 24 hours or so, making this a good do-ahead meal.
About 2 hours before you’re ready to bake it, get going on your pastry. Mix the 3 cups flour with the salt, and then add the frozen butter, cut up into very small cubes (my sister likes to grate frozen butter into her flour for pie crusts with a big cheese grater…works pretty well, actually). Add the frozen shortening in tiny bits and carefully, with your hands or a pastry blended, combine the flour and fats until the mixture resembles very coarse crumbs (it is ok to have fairly large pieces of fat, it is more important to work quickly so the fat doesn’t start to melt into the flour. Add the vodka and toss to combine. Add the egg yolk and milk and gently combine. Now add the ice water about a tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition, until the dough begins to hold together – should take about 4-7 tablespoons. Treat your dough carefully – you don’t want to overwork the flour and develop too much gluten, and you don’t want your fats to melt into the flour. Pull the dough into two balls, one for the bottom crust and one for the top – allow a bit more dough for the bottom than for the top. Refrigerate for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 375. Remove pastry from fridge and roll out the bottom crust. Place in the bottom of a pie dish and add the meat filling. Roll out the top crust and cover the filling – pinch the top crust to the bottom and fancy up the edge if you want. Brush the top with the yolk/milk wash and stick in the oven for about 45 minutes.
Serve hot with vanilla ice cream. Joking.