Steak and Kidney Pie

According to “The Old Foodie” Janet Clarkson, who as an Australian is well-versed in the British table, steak and kidney pie (also known as beef and kidney pie) is a late 19th /early 20th century variation on an older recipe, steak/beef and oyster pie. Clarkson claims this variant developed because in time oyster populations in the UK were decimated by over-harvesting and pollution, so those indomitable Brits found a viable substitute for oysters in kidneys, usually those of veal or lamb. But despite its relatively shallow roots, steak and kidney pie has become very much an iconic British foodstuff. References to it can be found in the Harry Potter series and more notably in Joyce’s Ulysses, but it also appears in American works by Anglophiles such as Clark Blaise and Marjorie Rawlings, who mentions steak and kidney pie in conjunction with her recipe for blackbird pie (Marjorie was a big hunter) in her wonderful work, Cross Creek Cookery

Now, kidneys aren’t something you’re going to find in the grocery store, but I found some at the Farmer’s Market on High Street. These I cored, diced and sautéed in butter with onions a bit of flour. I used about the same amount of cubed top round, also sautéed with a bit of flour and onion, then slow-cooked until very tender in a beef stock I had on hand. To these I added about a half-pound of sliced mushrooms, also sautéed in butter. These three ingredients went into a skillet with a bit more stock that I seasoned with salt, black pepper and Worcestershire and thickened with corn starch into thick gravy. I lined an 8” cast iron skillet with crust, filled it with the kidney/beef/mushroom mixture, topped with another layer of crust and baked in a moderate oven until nicely browned. It’s a wonderful old savory dish, a great addition to your menu.

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