Does this taste like pee?

Meaty goodness | April 26, 2013 | By

A question I did not ask my husband tonight, but I could have. Not should have, in my mind, but could have. So I didn’t.

Last time I was at Rowe Farms, I picked up a nice big frozen kidney, aka, cow urine creation system. Just ’cause. When I grab something strange having questionable potential deliciousness, I procrastinate cooking it, which is why this post has been rather delayed since the last one. But today I bit the pee pee bullet (kidney stone?) and served it up.

I decided to learn to make steak and kidney pie, even though it’s really more of a fall/winter dish. If I’m eating fish, and I feel like red wine, I’m not going to drink something I don’t want just because someone says it doesn’t go together. Spring. Stew. Same.

I’d never had steak and kidney pie before, so I had to guess at what was traditional by sifting through recipes. The sense I got was that it was basically beef stew in pastry with some kidney thrown in. Guessing the whole thing got started because thrifty housewives needed to thicken up beef stew when they couldn’t afford all that much beef. I felt honoured to be joining the ranks, because I’m nothing if not a thrifty housewife. Might just start thickening Phil’s dinners up with other reasonably priced fillers. Bet I could make bologna look like salmon if I really made an effort.

Anyway, I found this stellar recipe that I chose partly because it called for ale, but not a full bottle of ale, so I felt like it was giving me permission to drink the other half. Sold.

Steak and Kidney Pie (modified from original per my tweaks. Makes 1 medium casserole dish)

  • 30g plain flour
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 400g stewing beef – diced into 2cm pieces
  • a big knob of unsalted butter
  • Olive oil – for cooking
  • 1 large onion – chopped
  • a good dollop of English mustard
  • 170ml Ale
  • 120ml beef stock – made from almost half of a Knorr stock cube (don’t use OXO it won’t taste the same.
  • a sprig of fresh thyme – leaves only
  • a good splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Pint of mushrooms – quartered
  • Beef kidney, fatty membranes removed (mine was removed by butcher, but I read they can have them), cut away from central tendons
  • 300g ready made puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk – lightly beaten to glaze

Directions: Defrost meats and puff pastry if necessary and preheat oven to 350. Bask in the beauty and slight creepiness of your kidney.

IMG_3186Melt butter on burner in stew pot that can go in the oven. Drizzle stew beef with olive oil and dredge in flour, having salt and peppered the flour. Over med-high heat, brown beef, adding more oil if necessary. Cut up soft bits of kidney, avoiding anything tough. Add to pan and brown briefly (kidney in pic below isn’t fully browned yet).


Remove.  Splash some more oil in and add onions to pan, cooking until translucent. Add mushrooms and mustard and cook a few minutes. Pour beer in, and drink remainder of bottle. Here’s the nice Toronto one I used


Cook a minute or so, then add beef stock. Heat to boiling, and throw in remaining ingredients. Pop pot into oven, covered, and cook 2 hours. Your house will smell amazing.

Meanwhile, roll out your puff pastry so it will cover your casserole dish, flouring surface and rolling pin.


Remove stew from oven


Transfer to casserole dish. Brush top edge of dish with egg yolk and drape pastry over, poking centre a few times.


Brush pastry with egg yolk. Increase heat to 400 and cook a further 20 minutes or so, checking to make sure top doesn’t get too brown. And that’s it!



Results: The recipe was delicious, and I’d use it again for a straight steak pie, but the kidney didn’t do much for me. My mom hated liver so because I wasn’t raised eating organ meats I find it hard to get past the consistency. But there wasn’t an off-putting taste to it, and my husband ate his whole serving and put the leftovers away for another day – I would have heard about it if it was awful. Rating: 4 Yums for the recipe, but 1 Gag for the kidney. The cows can keep their pee makers.

Drink pairing: Already mentioned, Toronto’s Mill Street Tankhouse Ale


  1. Leave a Reply

    April 27, 2013

    That actually looks good! I was wondering what this was going to be when you mentioned pee but hey, it looks delish. Cows can keep their pee pee makers, haha! Love it.

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      April 27, 2013

      It was good! Only slightly Hannibal Lechter.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Heather Sccott
    April 28, 2013

    Ann, steak & kidney pie is a favourite in N Ireland to buy or to order when eating out,I have never made it as kidney isn’t liked in our house!
    Glad you didn’t go to the trouble of making pastry,frozen is great!
    Looked delicious. Look forward to seeing you it won’t be long now!

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      April 29, 2013

      I actually intended to make scratch pastry, but when I weighed whether it was quicker to walk to the grocery store at the corner against letting dough firm up for a few hours, the quick way won! Excited to be seeing you guys soon!!

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      April 29, 2013

      Hmmmm, can’t seem to source any bologna (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!). And anyone who reads that and sees it as an invitation to send me bologna will have it politely returned to them. In the shape of a fish.

  3. Leave a Reply

    Joanna @ Midwestern Bite
    April 29, 2013

    I bought a can of Spam the other day and couldn’t eat it. The Husband and I discussed how you would be very disappointed in me. I’ve never thought to eat kidney before, but I love mushroom so if they are together I’d eat it. Dang. I should have added some mushrooms to the Spam.

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      April 29, 2013

      I am afraid of Spam, I admit it. Doing it up for the blog has crossed my mind before, but then I wake up screaming in a cold sweat. Maybe my next contest should be a Spam one? Then I’d have to try it multiple times, though. Shiver

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