When I made this on Sunday, the 15th arrondissement of South East London was bathed in glorious springtime sunshine, more conducive to thoughts of grilled prawns and crisp salads than to savoury puddings. But I had already bought the beef and kidney and had half a savoy cabbage to use up. Plus which I hadn't eaten a steak and kidney pudding in an absolute age.
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
enough for a one pint pudding bowl (two servings)
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.
a little softened butter
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.
SHORTLISTED FOR FOOD BLOG OF THE YEAR 2014