The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Slow cooked Steak and Kidney Pie Recipe

Steak and Kidney PieOne great thing about autumn and winter is savouring a really good steak and kidney pie. Another is that we have streamlined our weekday cooking but still eat well. We both love good food; even our mid-week meals of sausage and mash consist of Newmarket sausages (superb!) with creamy mashed potato and heaps of vegetables fresh from the garden.

Neither of us wants to spent hours making supper during the working week. Even those ’30 minute meals’ seem to take us at least an hour. Eventually we twigged that we could avoid kitchen temper tantrums if we cooked dishes in advance and in bulk at weekends. We could share the work and treble the output.

Generally we adapt recipes, trying to improve on our favourites. Working together meant that that quality of our cooking has perked up as we share ideas and tinker with ingredients in our attempts to make a dish sing.

We cook for eight and freeze in smaller portions. We grab a meal from the freezer in the morning and it is ready to be heated through when we return for supper.

It took a bit of practice to get this working well. We now try to have a minimum of four choices on our menu, with a large enough range to guarantee that one will always appeal each day. It’s wise to try out a recipe first before bulk cooking. We had a mediocre coq au vin knocking about in our freezer for over a year before we had the heart to throw it out. Our freezer contains dishes based on lamb, beef, chicken, pork and our basic pasta sauce. By supplementing these with quick suppers of sausages, chops or fish we have created a backbone menu of hearty, fast, weekday treats without tears.

Our favourite supper is the steak and kidney pie below. It is fined tuned every couple of months. Let the filling for this dish slow cook for hours (or overnight) so that the full flavours can develop. Freeze it it portions and when the time comes all you have to do is pop on the pastry top.

* We now have a recipe specifically designed for the slow cooker – you can read it here

Slow cooked Steak and Kidney Pie (8-10 portions)

Ingredients:

  • 1kg shin of beef (ask your butcher to dice this roughly for you)
  • 1 ox kidney (available from a good butcher. I’ve also seen it at Waitrose. It has a much better flavour than lamb or pig and is easier to prepare)
  • 6 carrots, skinned, trimmed and cut into 3 cm lengths
  • 2 medium onions, chopped reasonably finely
  • 4-6 Portobellini mushrooms (or Portabello) Chopped into 1 cm cubes
  • I pt/500ml of homemade brown stock (beef stock cube will do at a pinch)
  • Handful of thyme sprigs (8-10)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ handful of porcini mushrooms (secret ingredient). Soaked in boiling water to cover and chopped (1 cm) when cool enough to handle (retain the juice)
  • 2 tbsp of potato flour (for thickening at the end – another secret ingredient)
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil (we use olive oil)
  • 4 tbsp of plain flour
  • Slug of Lea and Perrins Sauce (a dessertspoonful to be exact)
  • 2 tbsp of mushroom ketchup
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Pie crust for two:

  • 1 375g pack of puff pastry
  • 1 beaten egg

Method:
For the filling:

  1. Remove the white core (our dogs love this bit) from the kidney and chop into ½”/ 2 cm cubes.
  2. Cut the fat from the beef but leave the gristle in. Slow cooking will break down the gristle completely and form the basis of the rich sauce.
  3. Toss the beef and kidneys in the flour to coat
  4. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan in a large heavy based saucepan or casserole (with a lid) and in batches, quickly brown the meat well over a medium heat. Stir every now and then so the meat doesn’t stick. Set aside when browned in a warm place.
  5. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil to the saucepan and add the onions. Stir well to insure that they are all covered with the oil. Cook over a low heat for five minutes, covered.
  6. Add the carrots. Stir to cover with the juices and leave for two minutes.
  7. Add the meat and the stock. Stir well and increase to heat to medium.
  8. Bring to simmering point and add the balsamic, thyme, and porcini mushrooms and their juice. Add a good dash of Lea and Perrins and 2 tbsp of mushroom ketchup. Add the juniper berries and peppercrons. Stir well.
  9. Turn down the heat to the barest minimum (you should still see tiny bursts of bubbles surfacing, occasionally). Put on the lid (with foil underneath if it’s not tight fitting) and leave for at least eight hours. (We leave this to cook overnight. If you do this double check that the simmer is really gentle before leaving it all night).
  10. Towards the end of the cooking time add the portobellini mushrooms and simmer gently for 20 minutes (we do this the next day).
  11. Whilst the mushrooms are cooking add a little of the gravy (liquid from the saucepan or pot) to the potato flour to make a wet paste (no lumps) and stir it into the stew
  12. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  13. When cool, use a ladle and pour into square plastic containers to freeze (they stack better in the freezer) . When they are frozen, transfer the contents to freezer bags.

For the top:
We cheat here, and buy a pack of ready-rolled puff pastry. It works so much better than shortcrust, soaking up the sauce on the plate.

  • Heat enough of the steak and kidney filling and ladle into your cold pie dish
  • Line the edge of the pie dish with a strip of pastry and brush with beaten egg before putting on the lid.
  • Press the lid firmly with a finger all the way round before trimming the lid (leave ½ cm overhang to allow for shrinkage).
  • Make a couple of holes in the top to allow air to escape and brush with beaten egg.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven at 180º c (160º fan) for 30 minutes and then increase the heat to 200º (180º fan) for ten minutes to brown the top. (when we followed the instructions on the pack to cook at 220º (200º fan), the pastry burnt on the top and was soggy underneath).

Tricks and tips:

  • When we heat the filling, before putting it in the pie dish, we often thicken the gravy at this stage with a little more potato flour
  • If freezer space is limited use square boxes as they take up less space than round boxes in the freezer
  • Use the pastry off cuts to make cheese straws

  Leave a reply

14 Comments

  1. Just made this, eating it as I type and it is bloomin’ marvellous! Used Brown Chestnut mushrooms instead of Portobello and dried Thyme instead of fresh. Left out Porcini, Lea and Perrins, Juniper berries and potato flour, and still it’s the best pie I’ve ever made!! Thank you for sharing this recipe, definitely a winner! If I could submit a picture, I would!

  2. Ken Weeks

    Hi
    Am I allowed to ask a question instead of a comment?
    I am having this for Christmas Day lunch.
    What should I accompany this with?
    any suggestions would be appreciated.
    thanks
    Ken

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