Mom told me that when she was sad, Grandma used to make her one of her favourite foods in the world: kidneys. My mom and I are very different when it comes to this part of the palette. I lean more towards vegetarian than she does but she is staying with me, has had a lot of challenges since getting here and I wanted to make her feel better. In order to do so, I decided to take on kidneys as my food phobia challenge this week by making steak & kidney pie. I used this recipe as an outline but it was so poorly written I went here for ideas on technique and then came up with my own. This recipe requires patience, an open mind and lots of time. I hope you enjoy the visual tutorial on how to make homemade steak and kidney pie.
Finding the kidneys was the hardest part. Not exactly typical food fare around here but I managed to get some and also bought stewing beef. I chopped them up and dredged them in flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper and did the dredging quickly in a Zip-Loc bag.
You dredge the meat in flour to help the meat brown and the flour will also help create a sauce once all of the meat is browned. You really need to do this in batched or else the meat won’t brown, it will steam. The bottom of the pan is going to get very brown and almost look burned but don’t panic, we want that!
I removed the meat then added the mushrooms, 3 previously-sauteed shallots, 1/2 cup of the porcini broth, 1/2 cup of dark beer, 1 cup of beef consomme, 4 chopped thyme sprig leaves, just a bit of finely chopped rosemary and 1 bay leaf. I gently and gradually scraped up the brown bits and once the sauce has thickened, added back the meat. I covered and simmered the filling on low heat for two hours then I cooled the filling to room temperature.
Then it was time to make the pastry! Make sure to use ice water, it makes a difference, I promise. A traditional steak and kidney pie uses suet but after how hard it was to find kidneys, I decided to use butter instead:
My personal favourite technique for combining butter and flour for pastry is to grate the cold butter into the flour. It is best to put the butter in the freezer for a bit to make sure it hardens but is not necessary. I did this with butter right out of the fridge. I used 8 oz of self-rising flour and 1 stick of butter which is half a cup or 4 oz. Combine so it looks like dry peas. Do not over work it though! Better to underwork than over work a pastry dough. This will keep it tender.
For some tenderness I added one egg yolk but I think I should have done a whole egg. The crust was almost too tender! I also added way more than 2 tbsp of water and still my dough was crazy dry and sooooooooo flakey and wonderful. Once the dough came together I shaped it into a disk and wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to chill.
I put the meat and sauce into large rammekins and because the dough was so flakey and dry, I just rolled out smaller pieces and then topped off the rammekin with a disk and gave it a bit of an egg wash. I put it in the oven for 25 minutes at 350F until the pastry browned a bit. According to England’s Heritage Cookbook the traditional way to make this pie is to steam it but there were no instructions on how to do so! Steam a pie? I have no idea so I just baked it instead.
My first bite was of a kidney. I tried to like it, I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I had another bite and I was done. I felt bad, that maybe I had let my Mom down but she thought the pie was absolutely divine. Her words! Yay! That made me much happier. I took out the kidneys and she ate them all and I enjoyed the steak and mushrooms. I managed to make us both happy with food.
Definitely not a meal I would make every day, it is a lot of effort but wow, the depth of flavour is crazy deep! Plus, it really brought a lot of joy to my Mom and helped her feel loved and taken care of and reminded her of Grandma. Totally worth it.