Friday, March 9, 2012

Steak and Kidney Pudding

The pudding is based on a recipe published in the Argus on 11 March 1925, variations of which appeared much earlier and continued into the 1930s and later (to serve 2 or 3 rather than the 6 of this recipe). Traditionally, the steak and kidney filling is simply meat, flour, salt and pepper. Maybe half a chopped onion. I was tempted to add the rest of the onion, some carrot and celery, a couple of bay leaves and to substitute the water for red wine, but didn't. I thought the suet might come in a jar, shredded, but the butcher disappeared out the back and returned with a handful of fat. No luck with the ox kidney though, so I'm using two veal kidneys (500g) instead. I've never made suet pastry before, and most of my shortcrust pastries end up being stuck together, like jigsaw pieces, in the flan dish. But women in the 1920s made steak and kidney, and they didn't have the option of running down to the supermarket for some frozen puff pastry to whack on top and bung in the oven if all went terribly wrong. They probably didn't even have an oven.

Suet pastry
240 g plain flour
1/2 teasp baking powder
1/4 teasp salt
120g suet, finely chopped
Water, about 90 ml
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a basin and add finely-chopped (or shredded) suet. Mix to a dry paste with water, knead well in the basin, then lift on to a floured board, and roll out. Alternatively, whizz everything in a food processor, knead and roll into a smooth ball. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until the filling is ready.

Steak and kidney filling
1 onion, chopped
750g rump steak
1 ox kidney (or two veal kidneys)
1 dessertspoon flour
Salt, pepper

Skin the kidneys and cut the steak and kidneys up into small pieces. Put into a bowl with the onion, flour, salt, pepper, add a little water and mix well.
Grease the inside of a pudding basin or steamer with butter, cut off two thirds of the ball of pastry and roll this out into a round large enough to cover the inside of the basin, and leave a little standing up above the edge of the basin. (I don't know whether it was the lovely soft pinkish suet itself or finally getting the measures of flour, suet and water exactly right, but the pastry was perfect.)
Fill the basin with the meat mixture and add about three tablespoons of water. Wet the inner edge of the crust standing up above the basin. Roll out the other piece of pastry into a round a little bigger than the top of the basin and put it on top, pinching the edges of the pastry together. Completely remove the pastry from the edge of the basin with the back of a knife. This helps it to turn out well when cooked.
If you're using a steamer, place a piece of lightly greased tinfoil between the pudding and the lid, then clip on. Alternatively, flour lightly a dry pudding cloth and tie it firmly over the basin, pinning the ends on top. Simmer, covered, for three to four hours. Fill up the pot with boiling water occasionally. Serve the pudding it the basin to retain heat, with a serviette pinned around it.
Serves 6.

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