Does this taste like pee?
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.
Melt 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