Steak and Kidney Pie

by Beryl

in Beef,Main Course,Offal

Steak and Kidney Pie

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. Steak and Kidney PieThe 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.

Kidney

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.

BROWNING MEAT

BROWNING MEAT

Steak and Kidney Pie

Filling:

  • 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

Pastry:

  • 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.

Serves 6

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{ 1 trackback }

Beef Tongue
October 20, 2009 at 2:22 pm

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

NudeFood October 9, 2009 at 11:49 pm

I can’t even tell you how LONG I’ve been wanting to make one of these. Thanks for a great looking recipe.

Reply

Connie October 11, 2009 at 12:02 am

Egads…..you're a blogger after me own heart. So glad I found your site! That pie looks and sounds AMAZING!

Reply

we are never full October 11, 2009 at 6:13 pm

next time don't forget to soak your kidneys in milk – it kind of gets rid of some of its farty smell/flavor. maybe you'd like to try this recipe that we loved?

great post!

Reply

Talley October 12, 2009 at 1:00 am

Hey, thanks for that milk soaking suggestion! Seems silly now to me that we didn’t soak it, especially as we used that same trick with the sweetbreads we posted on previously.

Reply

Zev Balsen October 13, 2009 at 5:24 am

Neanch'io. Non sopporto il rognone.

Reply

Nicholas October 15, 2009 at 7:03 am

I was poaching sweetbreads this evening to press overnight and I just thought I'd google and see what other people were doing with them. I happened upon your site and couldn't be happier. I love trying to cook with organ meat and am sad that here in the U.S. it's considered garage. One man's trash is my treasure. The tongue sliders look amazing. I made some just like it the other day but with spam.

Reply

DeadBug October 15, 2009 at 6:29 pm

I'd also suggest using veal kidneys, not beef kidneys. Yes, they're the same animal, but veal is much younger, and the meat is much milder. (Just as beef liver is overly strong in flavor, while calves' liver is wonderful stuff.) I love both veal and lamb kidneys though, so I might be a tad biased.

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Talley October 15, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Awesome! Glad to hear it. The tongue sliders were actually vaguely inspired by a fantastic spam slider that you can get at one of the mobile food trucks here in seattle.

What did you end up doing with your sweetbreads?

Reply

PERRY R. EMERY December 2, 2009 at 11:15 pm

DEAR BERYL
HI. HAVING LIVED IN ENGLAND FOR TWELVE YEARS I LOVE PUB OR WORKING MANS FOOD. PIES AND PASTIES WHERE ORIGINALLY MADE TO BE PACKED FOR LUNCH. LAMBAS KIDNEYS ARE MILDER IN FLAVOR BUT IN A PIE IT SHOULDN’T MAKE THAT MUCH DIFFERENCE. I’M THINKING IT MIGHT OF BEEN THE WAY THE KIDNEYS WERE PREPARED THAT GAVE THEM A BAD FLAVOR. BUT THE REAL REASON I WRIGHT IS THE WAY “FOODIES”MESS UP SO MANY GREAT BUT SIMPLE RECEIPES. THEREFORE I TAKRE EXCEPTION TO OLIVE OIL, NO LARD, PORTOBELLOMUSHROOMS NO BUTTON, OYSTER SAUCE COME OFF IT, AND WHAT A WASTE OF STOUT. DRINK THE STOUT AND USE STOCK , VEGATABLE STOCK IS PREFERRED OR BEAF.
MANY TAAS
RANDY

Reply

J Taylor December 18, 2009 at 6:12 am

Mr Emery, whilst lard or beef dripping is more traditional, in a rich pie such as this it would make no difference to the finished product to use olive oil and for those that are health conscious it is healthier. It is also a similar price (providing you don’t use extra virgin oil). The important thing is to use an oil that will get to a high enough temperature to properly caramelize the meat and produce the Maillard reaction. The mushrooms, I agree about. Again it doesn’t really matter, but portobellos tend to get leathery when stewed and the delicate black gills flake off anyway. The other two points I disagree on. There is a very long tradition of using ales in English fare as it “beefs” up the flavour and the alcohol will help to tenderise the meat. There is an even longer tradition of using oysters in pies. At one time most pubs in England sold Guinness and oysters together as a post work staple for the working man. The salty meaty oyster adds the all important umami flavour to the pie that makes all the difference. Oysters used to be cheap ubiquitous fare and I would recommend ditching the oyster sauce and using whole fresh oyster instead :-)

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Elisabeth Price February 14, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I’ve been making steak and kidney pie and pudding all my life, and I do appreciate the idea of putting in oysters. Meanwhile, I ‘v e been using the oyster sauce, or one could use Vietnemese or Thai fish sauce. If you hate kidneys or your American friends just hate the idea, you can substitute mushrooms. I recommend the Chinese King mushrooms because they are good and solid and will take braising for a couple of hours without breaking up any further than you slice them. Your recipe here is good and doesn’t require anything you have to look hard for in the US. Incidentally, I’ve found that soaking kidneys in water for half an hour is just about as good as milk, but the people I knew in England just stuck them right in there! Awesome blog. Bravo!

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Brett Warner March 29, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Thanks for the Recipes! I’m just learning how to cook and really enjoy trying new things.

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Al January 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Usually we put kidneys (best are veal’s) in halfs sumbmerged in water and vinegar for a bout an hour, at least. That will take the strong smell away.
Also beef can be softened in a numbers of ways without having to add beer or other thing unnecesarily, in order to preserve the original flavour.
And J taylor —> of course has a difference when u use olive oil, always does.
Maybe some people need a more sensitive sense of taste to discern this… all you do in the cooking make a difference in the end.

Reply

emh November 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm

So I live in a large city, and yet I cannot find kidneys in any of the grocery stores. I’ve gone to the more upscale grocery stores like Byerlys and, nada. I hesitate to buy them on the Internet because I don’t entirely trust that they will be good by the time they get to me. So, where is one supposed to buy kidneys in America? It’s not like we have butcher shops on the corner anymore.

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Elisabeth Price November 28, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Dear emh,
I have two good sources for kidneys. One is Whole Foods. My local store gets its meat on Wednesday, and if you get there on Wednesday morning, you can get fresh kidneys – veal and lamb. A much cheaper source is the local ethnic markets, Chinese, Korean, Thai, or Vietnamese. They nearly always have something in the way of kidneys: often beef kidneys, which are huge and coarse but do very well in pie (as opposed to a mixed grill or a French ragout), almost always pig’s kidneys, and sometimes lamb’s kidneys. These markets are not as glossy as the usual supermarkets, but getting better all the time – and you can always use your nose to confirm freshness. I get very good service and excellent meat from my usual haunts!

Reply

Roger March 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm

My mother (K) recommended pork kidneys.

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