Steak and kidney pie is one of my absolute favourite dishes. I craved it all through my teens and every pregnancy, I was even cooking one (badly) on the day Mr Kat and I got engaged.
It is deep and rich and satisfying. It is the most comforting of foods all the more special for the time taken to create it.
In the last few years I have been trialing recipes, tweaking and revisiting, hoping to find the elusive combination of ingredients. And by goodness, I think I may just have it.
Inspiration struck this Easter when I had a dish with oxtail which was so flavoursome I immediately decided to start experimenting with it. Oxtail proved to be the missing ingredient in my steak and kidney pie recipe – it adds both richness and thickens the gravy.
I prefer to make the filling a day ahead of the meal and as it freezes so well making a huge batch pays dividends. You can either freeze the filling or go ahead and cook the pie then freeze it whole – either work just as well.
I have tried this with both ale and without. I think it’s an ingredient too far but if you love ale in your pie substitute 330 – 500ml of the stock for a good dark English ale.
Some tips on the pastry: firstly, make sure there is a good inch between your filling and the pastry. Too close and the bottom of the pastry will get soggy or worse – the gravy will spill out.
Secondly, ensure you have a good seal around the edges. Wet the rim and press the pastry firmly down and together to form a crimp. Again, If you have any parts not well stuck down your filling could come out of the sides.
Finally, you need a hole in the middle for the steam to escape through. I use a pie funnel (because they are awesome) but if you don’t have one a few slits through the pastry at the centre will suffice.
Ready rolled puff pastry is possibly one of the best inventions ever. I recently tried out a ‘lighter’ pastry from the supermarket and it was just as good as the full-fat real deal.
Oxtail, Steak and Kidney Pie Recipe
400g Beef Braising Steak
Approx 600g Oxtail (remember – the bones will account for a lot of that weight)
200g of Ox Kidney
1 onion finely sliced
1 stick of celery finely diced
1 carrot finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced / finely diced
A knob of butter
4 tbsp sunflower oil
4tbsp plain flour, well seasoned with salt and pepper
700ml of hot beef stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp English mustard
1 packet of ready roll puff pastry (or puff pastry rolled to 0.5cm)
1 egg, beaten, to glaze
Serves eight or six very hungry people – I make two pies as pictured.
Stage One: The Filling
- Preheat the oven to 150°C.
- In batches, toss your meat in the flour to lightly coat it. Make sure the excess flour is shaken off as too much will burn in the pan.
- Heat the oil and butter in a wide shallow pan over a medium heat.
- Brown the meat in batches, giving the oxtail a little longer and the kidneys only a brief browning.
- Tranfer the meat to a deep casserole dish.
- Next soften the vegetables in the pan being sure to keep them moving to collect all of those delicious meat flavours.
- When the veg are ready, add a cup of the stock to the pan along with the Worcestershire Sauce and mustard then transfer all to the casserole.
- Add the rest of the stock, give the pan a quick stir then pop it in the oven.
- Cook for 2.5 to 3 hours giving it a quick check once in a while to make sure it’s not boiling dry.
- If the mixture seems too wet, ladle out 100 – 150ml of the gravy and set aside, you can always add it back in later.
- Pull out the oxtail and use a fork to shred the meat, returning it to the pie filling and discarding the bones.
- Cool the mixture, refrigerate and skim off any fat which sets on the top. (Or skip straight to the next stage if making on the same day).
Stage Two: The Pie
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
- Put your pie funnel into a deep pie dish (I just love enameled tins like Falcon Enamelware, pictured are a 28 & 24 cm)
- Fill the dish, leaving an inch or so between the filling and the edge of the rim.
- Wet the rim and lay your pasty over the tin to roughly measure. Trim the sheet and cut an X in the spot for the pie funnel.
- Fit the pastry lid and tightly crimp the edges to ensure a good seal.
- Egg wash the surface (optional) and decorate with the pastry trimmings.
- Cook in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes until the pastry is golden and risen.
Serve with deliciously chunky chips and lashings of English mustard.