Steak and kidney pie

A photo of steak and kidney pie with mash and beet.
Of all my wonderful memories of England, steak and kidney pie is way up there as a fixed favorite. Friends and family would try to have me eat other foods, but I just HAD to try the steak and kidney pie wherever we went. With LOTS of gravy and NO peas.

Getting my steak and kidney pie with no peas was harder than one imagined it would be. I would say “NO PEAS PLEASE!” and they would look at me as though I was mad and still give me peas. So eventually I ordered it with no peas and a side plate to put the peas on that definitely came with it.

It’s not that I don’t like peas, I just don’t love peas, and I do NOT like peas with my gravy. They interfere with the taste of the kidneys and give off their own flavor and I don’t want pea flavor. So you get it and I should stop carrying on about the PEAS? Well, why did they not and then have to put…

Okay, okay, I will peacefully talk about the actual steak and kidney pie, this delicious and yet simple dish. The most “difficult” part was the cutting up of the kidneys and this was only due to lack of experience as the actual chopping is easy peasy. I looked in my clever book that is basically “Cooking from A-Z and the Art of motorcycle maintenance” rolled into one, but found it to be lacking in the kidney how-to department.

They were clearly geared for major kidney surgery on oxen only and said to cut the kidney in half and cut out the curly bit. Bearing in mind that I was cutting up lamb kidneys, by the time I had cut out the curly bit, there was about two tablespoons of kidney left. Since then, I have been informed that such surgery is not necessary on small kidneys and I have safely left curly bits attached and am as alive and fat as I was before eating said curlies. You can cut out the little white piece – it’s clearly visible in the photo.

A kidney cut in half.

I always thought a pie HAD to have a pastry crust, but you can make steak and kidney pie without any crust at all, and instead top it with mash potatoes or even serve it with boiled potatoes on the side. Years ago I might have considered it sacrilege to leave off the pastry, but with age has come fat (in place of wisdom), so I now belong to the converted. My German husband is quite unfamiliar with savory crusts and likes them less than I like peas so we seldom eat pastry (sob). But he does love peas…

One vivid memory I have of steak and kidney pie was while working for Steve in Birmingham when a South African mate of mine, Sharlene (yes, that is the correct spelling), came to stay. Steve took us to this “Steak and Kidney Temple” where they served Man sized pies – without exaggeration, each portion was enough to feed a family of five starving lumber jacks.

The pies came with pastry horns and (most unfortunately) had brussel sprouts inside… I am not fond of peas but I loathe brussel sprouts. Still I managed to eat about as much as half the family of lumber jacks would have and it was really delicious even with the Brussels.
So don’t be shy adding goodies to your pie,
Carrots, mushrooms, you give it a try!

Another view of the finished “pie”.

(Serves 4)

I served mine with mash potatoes and beets, but you could top yours with pastry. Top the cooked filling with puff pastry, brush with egg, make a slit in the middle for steam to escape and bake at 180-200C for 25-30 minutes.

Use quite a bit of freshly ground black pepper – it’s supposed to be a bit fiery!

If using large sheep, beef or ox kidneys, you will need to slice them in half lengthwise and cut out the hard white core in the middle. This is easily done with a knife or even a pair of scissors.

1 tbsp oil
2 onions, sliced
500g - 1kg stewing beef, cut into about 3cm cubes
250g kidneys (about 3 sheep kidneys), chopped
1 tbsp flour
2 cups beef stock
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce)
1 tbsp corn flour to thicken if desired

1. Brown the onions and meat in the oil and then sprinkle with the flour. Pour in the beef stock and season with salt and pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Cover the pot tightly and place in the oven at 180C for about 1 ½ hours or until tender. You could also simmer the pie/stew on top of the stove if desired.

2. Add more stock if necessary during the cooking process. If the broth/gravy is too thin, you could thicken it with flour or corn flour (first mix with a little water till smooth before adding to avoid lumps). Check seasoning and serve.

Peace be with you!

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Kidney pie?? Wow, I've not heard of it. I'm not a kidney fan but the steak sure looks good :) Thks for sharing!

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