“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Snake and Pygmy, Kate and Sidney...

Steak And Kidney Pud!
First of all, I would like to say that I hear the collective groans and sounds of "eww" out there, particularly from you Americans, who think that kidneys are things you choose to donate to needy recipients when you expire rather than tasty morsels. But I gotta tell ya, I always loved this dish, from a little boy to a grown man. If you love Steak and Mushroom Pie, you'll love this. Kidneys are really just a little firmer than mushrooms texture-wise, and they also are like mushrooms in that they soak up flavour, so if the rest of it tastes good, so will the kidney. And really - who wants to go through life stuck with the same boring old set of tastes and textures. What is life really about if we eat the same stuff all the time?

So what is a Steak and Kidney Pudding? It's a dish made by enclosing diced steak and beef, lamb's or pig's kidney pieces in gravy in a suet pastry. In some areas, a "Steak pudding" is served instead, omitting the kidney from the ingredients.
The pudding is then steamed for hours and hours until cooked. In making a pie, the steak and kidney is usually pre-cooked with chopped onions etc by simmering for a few hours, before placing it in a pie and baking in the oven. With Steak and Kidney pudding, the suet pastry is used to line a bowl into which the uncooked steak and kidney mix is placed with onions, stock etc., then a suet pastry lid is  placed on top and sealed tightly. The top is then covered with muslin cloth which is tied round the bowl, or sometimes the whole bowl is enclosed in aluminium foil.. This is placed in a covered saucepan and steamed for about four hours or until the pudding is cooked. Some recipes then stipulate making a small opening in the top and pouring rich stock into the pudding ten minutes before serving.
I can sense you all have questions about this. Like what's suet pastry?
It is a special kind of dough made using suet, which is  raw beef or mutton fat, especially the hard fat found around the loins and kidneys. it has a low melting point which means it is solid at room temperature and melts at a moderate temperature, making it ideal for steamed puddings. It is used in a variety of dishes, such as haggis, Windsor pudding, dumplings, Christmas pudding, mincemeat, and spotted dick.

Here's a Suet Pastry recipe:

First sift 12 oz (350 g) of self-raising flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Add some freshly milled black pepper, then add 6 oz (175 g) of shredded beef suet – half the flour's quantity – and mix it into the flour using the blade of a knife.
When it's evenly blended, add a few drops of cold water and start to mix with the knife, using curving movements and turning the mixture around.
The aim is to bring it together as a dough, so keep adding drops of water until it begins to get really claggy and sticky.
Now abandon the knife, go in with your hands and bring it all together until you have a nice smooth elastic dough, which leaves the bowl clean. It's worth noting that suet pastry always needs more water than other types, so if it is still a bit dry just go on adding a few drops at a time.

Now you have your suet pastry - what to do with it? Well, if you're making a Steak and Kidney Pud (and I strongly suggest that you should - you owe it to yourself), here's what to do...

You'll need...

450 g (1 lb) stewing steak
100 g (4 oz) kidney
1 onion, chopped
25 g (1 oz) plain flour
pinch of mustard powder
parsley sprig to garnish

  • Roll out two-thirds of the pastry to a circle large enough to line a 900 ml (1 1/2 pint) pudding basin.
  • Cut the steak into 2.5 cm (1 in) cubes. Remove skin, core and fat from the kidney, then cut into 1 cm (1/2 in) pieces. 
  • Arrange the steak and kidney in layers in the pudding basin. Mix together the onion, flour, mustard, seasoning to taste and the 150 ml (1/4 pint) water until smooth. Pour over the meat.
  • Roll out the remaining pastry to form a circle to fit the top of the basin. 
  • Brush the rim of the pudding with water, lift the pastry lid over the basin and press down gently around the rim. Trim off surplus pastry.
  • Cover with a lid of greaseproof paper, then a lid of foil, both pleated to allow for expansion, and tie with string. Steam the pudding for 4 hours, topping up with boiling water as required. Garnish with a sprig of parsley.
Traditionally ox kidney is used in this recipe, but if you prefer a milder flavour use lamb's kidneys.

Alright, alright... what do you mean by pudding basin,  Jeff? Huh?

Well, it's one of two things. It can either be a haircut...

..or it can be one of these lovely ceramic bowls found in kitchen stores.

Any more questions?

Yes, you cry, yes! What's the new Name This Food! food?

Name it!


  1. Ah yes, but what is tea and scones (with jam and cream) otherwise known as?

  2. So it really is kidneys huh? There are some folks out there who like to tell Americans that it means "kidney beans" and not actual organs.

    Just wanted to thank you for stopping by my "new" blog. I know I havent' started posting on it yet, but I'm about to make the switchover from MySpace to Blogger (which I intended to do months ago and changed my mind and now I've changed it back). Love it when people get the Red Dwarf reference!

  3. Devon Cream Tea :)


Come on and chew the fat!


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