Steak and kidney pie is a very popular dish in the UK (particularly in England) but it is perhaps more commonly made with shortcrust pastry rather than puff or flaky pastry. While it is still absolutely delicious made with shortcrust, the overall effect can be a little bit stodgy, leaving you feeling excessively bagged up after you have eaten. Using puff pastry largely eliminates this effect. Potatoes are commonly served with steak and kidney pie but they can be a little bit unimaginative in the way or ways in which they are prepared and served. This recipe sees the potatoes simply cut in an unusual fashion to lend an extra, attractive presentation element to the dish.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 1 pound diced stewing beef steak
- ½ pound diced ox/beef kidney
- Vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 medium to large carrot
- ½ medium onion
- 1 pint fresh beef stock
- 4 or 5 small new potatoes per person (about 1½ inches by i inch)
- ½ pound puff pastry
- Flour for rolling pastry
- Beaten egg for glazing pastry
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- 3 Savoy cabbage leaves per person
The steak and kidney should be chopped to around one to one and a half inch chunks. If this has not already been done for you by your butcher, this will be your first task.
Pour a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in to a large pot and put the pot on to a medium to high heat. Add the steak and kidney and season with salt and pepper.
Brown and seal the meat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. This should only take two to three minutes.
Scrub the carrot thoroughly in lukewarm water but there is no need to peel or even scrape it unless the skin is badly damaged. Top and tail it before chopping to one inch chunks. Slice the peeled onion half and reserve around a quarter of it for later cooking of the cabbage. Add the bigger part of the onion and the carrot chunks to the pot with the browned steak and kidney. Pour in the stock and turn up the heat until the liquid starts to simmer. Cover the pot and adjust the heat control to maintain a very gentle simmer for three hours. Do check the pot occasionally to ensure the liquid level is not getting too low. Top up with a little boiling water if necessary.
When the steak combination is simmering, wash the potatoes and add them whole to a pot of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a simmer for twenty to twenty-five minutes until the potatoes are just cooked and no more. Drain, allow to steam off and cover and set aside to cool completely.
After about an hour, when the potatoes are completely cool, carefully peel away the skin with your fingers. You should also then cut a thin slice off each end to allow them to stand upright on the serving plate.
Working slowly, take a thin bladed, very sharp knife and make cuts all the way round the circumference of the potatoes at alternate forty-five degree angles, going in only to the center with each cut. This is a little bit awkward but if you take your time, it is entirely manageable. When you have gone all the way around the circumference, the two halves should easily pull apart. Sit the potato halves in a suitable dish and refrigerate until required for roasting. This will help to dry them out, firm them up and make them less likely to break when they are oiled and roasted.
When the three hours are up, the steak and kidney should be melt in the mouth tender. Switch off the heat, move the pot to a cool part of your stove or hob and leave the meat to cool.
When the steak and kidney is cool, use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat and vegetables to an eight by six inch and one inch deep pie dish. Spoon on enough stock to half cover the meat only.
Roll out the pastry on a floured dry surface to a rectangle slightly bigger than the pie dish. Lift it on to the dish and crimp it down around the edges. Trim with a sharp knife and leave for the pastry to rest while your oven preheats to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6.
Glaze the pie with beaten egg and cut steam vents in the center. Lift to a roasting tray and place in the oven for thirty-five to forty minutes until the pastry is golden.
Five minutes before the pie is due out of the oven, crush the rosemary and thyme to a powder with a pestle and mortar.
Pour a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in to a large bowl and stir in the crushed herb powder. Add the potato florets and very gently stir fold them through the oil to evenly coat.
It is best to use your hand to lift the little potato pieces one at a time on to a roasting tray, sitting them upright on their flat side.
Take the pie from the oven and sit it aside on a heatproof surface to rest while the potatoes are added to the oven and roasted for twenty minutes.
When the potatoes are almost ready, wash the cabbage leaves and cut out the tough, central core. Roll the leaves up and shred.
Pour a tablespoon or so of oil in to a small, non-stick frying pan and put the pan on to a medium heat. Add the shredded cabbage and remaining onion. Season with salt and pepper and saute for two to three minutes until the strands are just softened.
Take the roast potatoes from the oven and lift them carefully with a spatula to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain. Cut the pastry of the pie in half across the center and lift one half back up and over the other.
Use a slotted spoon again to plate the exposed half of the pie filling on the first serving plate and spoon some cabbage and onion alongside,
Lift the freed pastry half on to the pie filling on the plate and plate the remaining pie portion on the second plate in a similar fashion. Lift the potato florets on to the plates for service.