Buttery shortcrust pastry stuffed with beef steak, kidney, onion, and gravy, has been warming the hearts of the English for centuries. Steak and kidney pie has filled the bellies of British countries through times such as wars and recessions and even in times of celebrations.
The concept of pies goes way back to the 14th-century before the age of refrigeration. In earlier times, pies were used to preserve meals or repurpose leftovers. Lucky for the British people, they favored meat pies. The first-ever recipe of a steak and kidney pie to have been published was in 1694 in a book called The Compleat Cook. The recipes nowadays barely resemble this original recipe as it used lambs, prunes, and other spices which have been obsolete in making pies. The dish was further popularized in 1939 when Winston Churchill was recorded by a journalist on how he enjoyed the dish.
Often mistaken for a close relative recipe, the steak and kidney pudding, there are quite significant differences in them. Both concepts consist of encasing savory filling in pastry. The main difference between the two recipes is in the pastry used to hold the filling. Steak and kidney pudding uses suet for its pastry which is the hard fat of beef around the loins and kidneys. The casing for a pudding is gooier than flakey when compared to a steak and kidney pie which uses a shortcrust pastry. To date, there are several versions of how a steak and kidney pie can be made. What we suggest is for you to try out the classic recipe then proceed to making your own recipe!
To assemble a great pie, In a stew pot, cubed beef kidney and round steak are browned in hot fat with onions and seasonings. This combination is simmered until meat is tender. Potatoes are added along with stout and Worchester sauce to create self-saucing gravy.
This wonderful mixture is generously filled into a casing of delicate shortcrust pastry and topped with a light layer of flaky puff pastry. The completed pie is then baked until the pastry is golden brown. One of the real challenge in making a steak and kidney pie is maintaining a flaky pastry while encasing a saucy and savory filling. Often without experience, your pie could result into a soggy bottom and ruin the texture of your pie. Although a perfect crust is vital to the dish, a moist and savory filling is also paramount. Finding the right balance to the moisture of the filling and the texture of the crust is the key to making a great steak and kidney pie.
This wonderful baked pie is best served with buttery mashed potatoes, braised red cabbage, and honey carrots, all the makings for a delicious meal.
My old Nan would be proud I still use her pastry recipe. Many pastry recipes call for ice-cold butter and hand-cutting the butter into the flour. This recipe is simple, easy to follow, and is a traditional way of serving steak and kidney pie. This recipe can be enjoyed by the whole family and can be easily made ahead of time to give way for your other preparations. The pastry and the filling can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Once ready to assemble, allow the dough to come into room temperature before using.
Steak and Kidney Pie RecipeCourse: MainCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Easy
Butter, for greasing
450g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
100g shredded beef lard
80g butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp salt
2 large free-range eggs, beaten, plus 1 for glazing
300ml water (as needed)
800g rump steak, roughly chopped
200g calves’ kidneys, trimmed, roughly chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 fresh bay leaf
1 330ml bottle of dark ale (Plus an extra one for the cook)
250ml beef stock
2 tsp English mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
50g plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions – Pastry
- For the pastry, put the butter, lard and 150ml water in a pan and bring to the boil, making sure the lard and butter have melted.
- Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the center. Add the 2 beaten eggs to the well and sprinkle over enough flour to cover the egg.
- Pour the just-boiled butter and water mixture around the edge of the flour and mix quickly with a wooden spoon until combined and smooth.
- Knead briefly, then wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Directions – Filling
- Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic for 10 minutes until soft but not coloured. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Season the steak with a generous amount of salt and pepper, then toss the steak in the flour to coat evenly.
- Add the seasoned steaked to the pan along with the remaining oil, increase the heat and brown all over, in batches if necessary.
- Return the softened onion and garlic to the pan with all the steak. Add the thyme and bay leaf pour over the ale and stock, then stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil, cover, and then simmer gently for about 1 hour 45 minutes until the meat is tender.
- Remove and discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Transfer the pie filling to a bowl and cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 360°F/180°C
- Reserve one-third of the pastry for lids, re-wrap in cling film and keep in the fridge.
- Divide the rest into 6 equal pieces. Roll or press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into 17cm circles. Lightly grease 6 x 220ml metal pie tins with oil.
- Line each one with a pastry circle, using your fingers to press it evenly around the sides – work the pastry up over the edge. Chill uncovered in the fridge for 40 minutes to harden.
- Divide the cooled filling among the pie tins.
- Take the reserved pastry and divide into 6.
- Press each piece out to a circle large enough to make a lid. Make a hole in the center of each (for steam to escape).
- Dampen the edges of the pastry with water. Lay the circles over the cases and seal all around the edge with your fingers. Crimp the edges and brush the tops all over with beaten egg.
- Bake for 40 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp, and the filling is piping hot. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes. Carefully remove from the pie tins.
- Serve with creamy mashed potatoes, green beans and pickled red cabbage.
tips and tricks
- One easy way to prevent a soggy bottom is to cook your filling thoroughly and avoid adding in too much moisture. If you prefer to add a lot of gravy, adjusting the consistency to being very viscous will help.
- Do not forget to score the cover of your pie. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, this gives the excess moisture from the filling a way to escape the pie and prevent it from seeping into the crust.
- Although unconventional, some cooks add vegetables to their pies. If you do this, you will also be adding more moisture. As such, cut back on some of the other liquid ingredients to compensate for the added water.
- You can add dissolved corn starch to the filling to increase its viscosity and hold the moisture in to prevent it from leeching into the crust.
- You can make the shortcrust pastry ahead of time and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it. Wrap the pastry dough in a cling wrap to prevent the moisture from escaping.