Mum's Steak and Kidney Plate Pie
First it's important to note that both the pastry and the filling can be made in advance – but don't forget to allow about 1 hour for the pastry to return to room temperature before rolling out. Because my husband Michael likes extra gravy I've included a recipe for that too.
Begin by trimming the steak and cutting it into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes. Then trim the ox kidney and chop it minutely small. Keep the meat trimmings to make extra gravy to serve with the pie. Now, heat the dripping in the casserole. Dry the meat with kitchen paper and, when the fat is really hot, add a few cubes at a time to brown on all sides, removing them to a plate as they brown. After that, add all the pieces of kidney and after browning these remove them to join the steak. Now, keeping the heat high, fry the chopped onion for 6-7 minutes or until it's nicely browned at the edges. Then return all the meat to the casserole and stir in the flour to soak up all the juices.
Next, add the thyme, followed by the Worcestershire sauce. Add a good seasoning of salt and pepper and then gradually stir in the stock and bring the whole lot to simmering point. Now put a lid on the casserole and place on the centre shelf of the oven for 2 hours. When the meat is cooked taste to check the seasoning and leave it to get cold.
While the meat cooks you can get ahead and make the stock for the extra gravy. Simply place the meat trimmings in a medium-sized saucepan with half the onion, cover with 1 pint (570 ml) water, add some seasoning and simmer, covered, for approximately 1 hour. Then strain the stock and rinse the pan. To make the pastry, first of all sift the flour with the salt, holding the sieve up high to give it a good airing. Then add the butter and the lard and, using only your fingertips, lightly and gently rub the fat into the flour.
When the mixture is crumbly, sprinkle in a tablespoon of cold water. Start to mix the pastry with a knife and finish with your hands, adding a few more drops of water if necessary for a smooth dough. Put the pastry in a polythene bag and place in the refrigerator to rest. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C) and place a baking sheet on a high shelf to pre-heat as well. To make the pie, first cut the pastry in half and, on a lightly floured surface, thinly roll out one half into a circle approximately 11 in (28 cm) in diameter.
Now transfer the circle, first rolling it over the pin and then over the base of the tin, and press it lightly and firmly around the base, sides and rim. Now take a sharp knife and trim the overlapping pastry and, after that, spoon in the filling. Now roll the remaining pastry out in the same way. Brush the rim of the base pastry with a little of the beaten egg and milk glaze and fit the other pastry circle on the top to form a lid. Press the edges firmly together, then trim off the excess and flute the edges.
Finally, if you want to decorate the pie, gather up the trimmings and re-roll them to cut out leaf shapes. Either way, make a small hole in the centre the size of a 5p piece (to allow the steam to escape). Then brush the surface all over with the beaten egg and milk glaze. Now place the pie on the baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.
After that, reduce the temperature to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C) and cook for a further 40-45 minutes, or until it is piping hot and has turned a deep golden-brown. While the pie is cooking you can make the extra gravy by frying the remaining half onion, chopped small, in the beef dripping until soft and blackened at the edges. Next, stir in the flour and gradually add the stock little by little to make a smooth gravy, adding a spot of gravy browning if it's needed. Taste to check the seasoning and add a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. Let the pie relax for about 10 minutes before serving. I like new potatoes and chopped spring greens or purple sprouting broccoli to go with it.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C).
You will also need a sloping-sided tin or pie plate with a 7 inch (18 cm) base, lightly greased, a lidded, flameproof casserole with a capacity of 4 pints (2.25 litres) and a solid baking sheet.