As Summer seems to have deserted our Northern climes with undue hast, I decided that dinner last night would be a slightly Autumnal affair. And nothing says Autumn better than British comfort food. Therefore I turned once again to my Complete British Cookbook for inspiration.
Now…kidneys…Not my favourite food it has to be said. Also, given the difficulty in finding fresh kidneys (none of the local butchers carry them!), I decided to leave them out and add extra mushrooms instead. In this regard I also ammended the original recipe; instead of using bog-standard mushrooms, I used chanterelles as they are currently in season and have a lovely meaty texture, which would make up for the lack of kidney. I also added half a beef stock cube (one of the Knorr ones that is actually jelly-like in texture rather than a dry cube) as the sauce looked a little anaemic at the halfway point. Next time I make this I will also use beer instead of water, to add another layer of flavour.
This is not a difficult recipe, but it is a bit fiddly. Or maybe I only found it to be so because it was the first time I had made it. Whatever the reason, it is well worth all the fuss! The pastry was crisp and fluffy, the meat tender and the sauce thick and rich. Lovely.
Ingredients: (makes 1 pie in a 900ml pie dish)
- 700g (1.5 lbs) stewing steak, cubed
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil (for frying)
- 25g (1oz) butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 175g (6oz) ox kidney, cut into small pieces (if you decide to include kidney, that is…)
- 150g (5oz) mushrooms, cut into large chunks
- a small pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp anchovy essence (Worcester Sauce also works)
- 350 g (12oz) puff pastry, thawed if frozen
- 1 large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt (to glaze the pastry)
- salt and black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C (150 for a fan oven) or gas mark 3. In a bowl, toss the steak with the seasoned flour. Heat the oil in an ovenproof, flameproof, non-stick casserole dish and add the butter. Brown half the steak, then remove to a plate. Brown the other half of the steak and remove to a plate.
2. Add the onion to the casserole and fry gently until soft. Return all the steak to the casserole and add 200ml (7fl oz) water (or beer), the kidney (if using), the mushrooms, cayenne and anchovy essence. Bring to the boil and then cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the casserole dish to the oven and cook for 1 hour or until tender. The sauce should be quite thick and syrupy by now. If it is not, put the dish on the hob, remove the lid and bring to the boil and bubble for 5 minutes to reduce the liquid. Remove from the heat (oven or hob) and put to one side while you prepare the pastry.
4. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 for fan ovens) or gas mark 6. If using ready-prepared sheets of puff pastry, cut 1-2 sheets into 1cm (1/4 inch) thick strips. Brush the pie dish edges with water and stick the pastry strips around the top inside of the dish. Fill the dish with the steak mixture, piling it high to support the pastry lid.
5. Dampen the pastry edges and use remaining pastry sheets to cover the pie dish and crimp the edges using the tip of a knife or the prongs of a fork. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg/salt mixture and cook in the oven for 30 minutes, until the crust is puffy and golden.
I served my pie with mashed potatoes, but any root vegetable will do. A green salad would probably also be nice with this if the weather is not super cold yet.