You may well consider it heresy to use red wine and balsamic vinegar rather than stout and Worcestershire sauce here and I'd have to agree with you frankly. All I can say in my defence is that they make for a wonderfully luscious gravy. And that's what I had in the cupboard.
What I'd really like to try in this recipe is Henderson's Relish. I was introduced to this for the first time a few weeks back by the lovely Di from the equally lovely Jack's Tea & Coffee House. If any one knows where I can get it in London I'd love to know.
The recipe for filling below makes enough for four. As I made a pudding for two people, I have two portions now in the freezer. I'll probably make a puff pastry pie with one and serve the other as it is with, mayhap, a baked potato.
the steak + kidney filling
500g shin of beef (after trimming), in small cubes
200g ox kidney (after trimming), in small cubes
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 tbsp oil (I used groundnut)
1 large onion, sliced
200g field mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 dsp balsamic vinegar
100ml red wine
500ml beef stock
a couple of sprigs of parsley
a couple of sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
salt + black pepper
Coat the beef and kidney in the flour. Fry the onion in the oil for a minute or two in a casserole dish then add the mushrooms and cook until softened. Add the balsamic and simmer for a minute. Add the red wine and simmer for a couple of minutes, reducing to almost nothing. Add the beef, kidney, stock, herbs and a good grind of black pepper. Cover and place in a 160C/140C fan oven for approximately 2½ hours or until the beef is nice and tender. Strain the gravy off into a separate pan and simmer to reduce and thicken. You want a 'coat the back of a spoon' consistency, not a watery one. If it looks like it is going to reduce too much without thickening you can add a little more flour. Now season with salt to taste. Pour back over the meat and allow to cool completely.
the suet pastry
125g self-raising flour
60g beef suet
3 tbsps water
½ tsp fine salt
In a bowl, rub the flour and suet together to form crumbs. Add the water and salt, mix, then knead briefly to form a fairly solid dough.
Reserve a quarter of the pastry for a lid and roll out the rest to about a 5mm thickness. Grease a one pint pudding bowl with the softened butter. Lift the pastry gently into the bowl. Cut out a V-shape from the pastry so it will fit perfectly in the bowl without rucking. Wet the cut edges and press together to seal. Now roll out the remaining pastry for a lid. Fill the bowl with half of the steak and kidney filling (including half the gravy of course). Place the pastry lid on top, wet the edges and seal. Cover with a piece of foil, folded in the middle (to allow for a little expansion when steaming). Press the foil around the bowl and tie tightly with string. Steam over a pan of simmering water for two hours.
Despite the inclusion of balsamic and red wine in the gravy, I still can't bring myself to serve a steak and kidney pudding without a bottle of HP sauce on the table. And a faithful whippet lying at my feet.