Individual Steak, Mushroom and Kidney Pies
Steak and kidney is one of the most wonderful combinations of flavours I know, provided ox kidney and no other is used. If it's cut really small, most people who think they don't like kidney will enjoy the rich, luscious flavour without even noticing it's there. The pies can be filled and topped the day before, covered and chilled, then just brushed with egg and popped in the oven when you need them – by the time the pastry is cooked the steak and kidney will be bubbling hot.
This recipe is from Delia's Complete How to Cook. Serves 6
I think the flavour of steak and kidney is improved enormously if you take a bit of time and trouble over initially browning the meat. What you need to do is melt 1 tablespoon of the beef dripping in a large, solid frying pan.
When the fat is really hot, pat the cubes of meat with kitchen paper and add them a few at a time, but don't crowd the pan; if you put too much in at once, this creates a steamy atmosphere and the meat won't brown, so brown the pieces on all sides in batches, adding them to the casserole as you go. Once the meat is browned, add the rest of the dripping to the frying pan and do exactly the same with the kidney. When these have joined the meat, keep the heat high and brown the onions in the frying pan, turning and moving them until they are nicely browned at the edges – 6-7 minutes.
Then, using a draining spoon, transfer the onions to the casserole, place it over a direct heat for 2 minutes before seasoning, then add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it's been absorbed into the meat juices. It doesn't look very nice at this stage, but that's not a problem. All you do next is add the Worcestershire sauce, thyme and mushrooms, followed by the stock and seasoning. Stir well, bring everything up to a gentle simmer, put the lid on the casserole and place in the pre-heated oven, on the centre shelf, and leave it there for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.
Meanwhile, make the pastry. First of all, sift the flour with the pinch of salt into a large bowl, holding the sieve up high to give it a good airing. Then add the lard and butter and, using only your fingertips, lightly and gently rub the fat into the flour, again lifting the mixture up high all the time to give it a good airing. When everything is crumbly, sprinkle in the cold water. Start to mix the pastry with a knife and then finish off with your hands, adding more drops of water till you have a smooth dough that leaves the bowl clean. Then pop the pastry in a polythene bag and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Once the meat is ready, transfer the cooked meat and its gravy to the dishes (or dish) and allow it to cool.
When you are ready to make the pies, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C), then roll out the pastry on a floured surface. Take a small saucer (about 5½ inches/14 cm in diameter) and cut out 6 rounds – you may have to re-roll the pastry to get all 6. Then, using the trimmings, roll out a strip about 3 x 14 inches (7.5 x 35 cm) and cut it into 6 to make borders for the pies. First, dampen the edges of each dish with water and place a strip of pastry around the rim of each one, pressing down well.
Next, dampen the pastry strips, then place one pastry round on top of each dish and seal carefully. Now use the blunt side of a knife to knock up the edges, then flute them using your thumb to push out and your forefinger to pull in again. For the large pie, cut out a 10 inch (25.5 cm) circle of pastry, using the trimmings to make strips for the border. Now make a hole in the centre of each pastry lid to let the steam out during baking, and brush the surface with the beaten egg. Place on a large baking sheet, then cook in the oven on the centre shelf for 25-30 minutes for the small pies, or 35-40 minutes for the large one, by which time the pastry should be golden brown and crusty.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C). (For important information about gas mark 1, click here)
You will also need 6 x 15 fl oz (425 ml) pie dishes or ovenproof soup bowls with top diameters of 5 inches (13 cm) or an ovenproof pie dish with a diameter of 9 inches (23 cm), and a lidded flameproof casserole with a capacity of 6 pints (3.5 litres).