Citizens, the Imperial Majesty that is TFD wishes his fellow Royals Harry and Meghan Markle every imaginable happiness in their new lives together! To celebrate their nuptial bliss, I am proud to share that most quintessentially British recipe with you for steak and kidney pie!
Steak and kidney pie is a savory pie that is filled principally with a mixture of diced beef, diced kidney (often of beef, lamb, or pork), fried onion, and brown gravy. Steak and kidney pie is a representative dish of British cuisine.
The gravy typically consists of salted beef broth flavored with Worcestershire sauce and black pepper, and thickened with refined flour, beurre manié, or corn starch. The gravy may also contain ale or stout. Hot water crust pastry, puff pastry, and shortcrust pastry are among the pastry crusts prepared for steak and kidney pie.
Among the various vernacular rhyming slang names for steak and kidney pie are Kate and Sidney pie, snake and kiddy pie, and snake and pygmy pie.
As noted on parkersbritishinstitution.com:
Be it steak and kidney or a proper pork pie, the Great British pie is Britian on a plate. As simple as your favourite pies may seem, they have a rich history that traces back to the Neolithic Period, around 9500 BC.
Pie-like dishes have been around since the ancient Egyptians, but the idea of enclosing a filling inside a sort-of-pastry made from flour and oil actually originated in ancient Rome. The first published recipe featured rye dough filled with goat cheese and honey.
The pie we know and love today has its roots in Northern Europe. Back in the day, olive oil was harder to come by and butter or lard were the fats of choice in the colder areas north of the Mediterranean. The use of these solid fats created a pastry that could be rolled and moulded – and so the true pie was born!
The early “pyes” were of course predominately meat pies. In the 12th century, the need for nutritious, satisfying, long-lasting food that was easy to store and carry, particularly at sea, was initially solved by taking livestock along with a butcher or cook. Needless to say, the ships quickly became pretty cramped, so a solution was found – a crust. The hardened pastry containers were not really eaten at first – think of them as disposable medieval Tupperware that kept the meat filling fresh.
Missionaries and explorers spread the meat-based pie dish across the globe. The English Pilgrims of the North American colonies brought the recipes across the ocean with them. The crust of the pie was useful to preserve food during the long winter months in America.
The pie was not actually not very popular in America until the 1800s, and today meat pies have lost their popularity to be replaced with sweet pies. Fruit pies had made their very first appearance in the late 16th century, when Queen Elizabeth I was served the first cherry pie.
Citizens, I am very proud of my particular recipe as it is sumptuous beyond words and totally authentic as well! The eccentric but delicious touch of Gentleman’s Relish (an anchovy and butter spread) adds a hint of umami – trust me, you won’t taste any anchovy in this! 🙂
I also call for the extra steps (rarely if ever done, sadly) of cutting out the cores of the kidneys and leaching them overnight. This prevents any hint of gaminess and “other unwanted flavors”. 😉
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- 8 oz lamb’s kidneys
- 1lb 9oz chuck steak
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil, or bone marrow (preferred)
- knob of beef fat (strongly preferred) or butter
- 2 onions, chopped roughly
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
- ¾ pint beef stock
- ¼ pint brown ale
- 4 crimini mushrooms, sliced thickly
- 1 tsp tomato purée
- 1 tsp mushroom ketchup (if not available, use Worcestershire sauce)
- 1 tsp Gentleman’s Relish (totally optional)
- 2 tsp. English Mustard powder
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- salt and feshly ground black pepper
- For the pastry:
- 175g/6oz butter or suet (suet preferred)
- 225g/8oz plain flour
- 8–9 tbsp water
- 1 beaten egg, to glaze
- Halve the kidneys lengthwise and cut out the central core of tubes. Rinse the remaining parts thoroughly in cold water and peel off the skins. Cut in small pieces and let sit in water overnight, changing the water a few times, then drain. Trim and cut the steak in cubes.
- Heat oil and butter (or marrow and fat) in a large pan, then fry the onions for 3-4 minutes, stirring. Add the garlic, then fry the meat for 2-3 minutes until it loses its pink colour. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the herbs, ale and stock. Stir until thickened and coming to the boil.
- Add mushrooms and purée, lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 1½ hours until, the meat is tender.
- Make the pastry: wrap the butter in foil and freeze for 45 minutes. Mix the flour with ¼ tsp of salt.
- Holding the frozen butter in foil, dip it in the flour and grate coarsely back into the bowl, peel the foil back so it does not get grated. Keep dipping it in the flour as you grate.
- Mix in the butter with a knife until evenly coated with flour. Stir in the water to form a dough. Gently form into a ball. Wrap in plastic film and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400.
- When the meat is cooked, remove bay leaves, season with salt, pepper, Gentleman’s Relish (if using) and mushroom seasoning (or Worcestershire sauce), then cool slightly.
- Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to 5mm/¼in thick and 1in wider than a 2 pint pie dish. Cut out the lid so it is slightly bigger than the dish. Cut a strip of pastry the width of the rim. Stir the parsley in to the meat and transfer to the dish.
- Brush the rim with egg, lay pastry strip on top and seal. Brush with egg and put lid on top. Seal the edges, knock them up with the back of a knife. Flute the edge. Cut a slit in the lid, brush with the egg (but not the edges or they won’t rise).
- Bake for 20 minutes, then brush with egg again. Bake for 10 minutes until the pastry is golden.
- Calories: 1326.46 kcal
- Sugar: 4.39 g
- Sodium: 1244.16 mg
- Fat: 105.2 g
- Saturated Fat: 55.09 g
- Trans Fat: 2.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 58.32 g
- Fiber: 3.95 g
- Protein: 36.67 g
- Cholesterol: 270.09 mg
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