Here’s a traditional British dish for you: the humble and hearty steak and kidney pie. The use of steak with kidney as a savoury pie filling goes back to the 19th Century and has remained a firm favourite ever since.
This particular steak and kidney pie recipe is now well over a century old having been published in 1914 in A Second Dudley Book of Recipes by Georgina Ward, The Countess of Dudley. Unlike modern recipes, there’s no frying to brown the meat before baking. Rather, following a meticulous filling procedure and covering with pastry, the pie goes straight into the oven for 1 ½ hours until it is ready to serve up, in our case with mash & peas (and a little broccoli). If you’re a fan of very meaty pies, this is one to try.
There’s a footnote at the end of the recipe saying that ‘veal and ham, pigeon, and rabbit pies are made in the same manner’ with sliced hard-boiled eggs added to the mix if desired. Following the success of this one, we’ve made a note to try one of the other fillings at some point!
Original Recipe: 'Steak and Kidney Pie' (Book 3, 1914)
Speed: 1 hr 45 mins | Serves: 4
1 lb. steak (rump or chuck), cut into strips
150g ox or sheep’s kidney, diced
Some small pieces of fat cut off from the steak
Flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
About ½ lb of puff or rough puff pastry
About 300ml of either beef stock or water
A little milk
1 egg yolk
1. If making from scratch, be sure to make your pastry first of all. We used this 1936 recipe for puff pastry following the success we had with it in making our 1930s sausage rolls, making this the night before and keeping it in the fridge until just before making the pie.
2. Dip your slices of steak into the seasoned flour and roll a piece of kidney and a tiny piece of fat cut from the steak in each slice of steak before packing the rolled up pieces into a pie dish.
3. Wet the edges of the pie dish with a little water and line the rim with a strip of pastry.
4. Pour in enough water or stock to come half-way up the dish.
5. Brush the pastry edges with either egg, milk or water (we used milk) and cover with the rest of the pastry. Trim off the excess and clamp the edges of the pastry together however you prefer. We pinched them together to make a simple scalloped edge.
6. Brush over the top with a beaten egg yolk and bake for 1½ hours at 180°C fan (350°F/Gas Mark 4). Keep an eye on it as it bakes, reducing the temperature if necessary if you see the pastry becoming too brown.
Note: Having checked the recipe again just before making, we noticed a note at the bottom of the recipe that we hadn't before stating that "a rough puff or flaky crust is eminently suitable for all kinds of meat pies". By this point it was already too late. we'd made puff pastry to use having seen the sentence which simply read "Make a paste crust" and skim reading "puff" without thinking too much about it. That said, while the Countess might've been steering us in the direction of rough puff or flaky pastry this is just a recommendation as both of these are time-saving varieties of pastry so we still feel that our version is an adequate representation of this antique recipe. Plus, the puff pastry worked perfectly, trust us ;)
Original Recipe for 'Steak and Kidney Pie'
'BOOK 3': A Second Dudley Book of Recipes (1914)
Collected and Arranged By: Georgina Ward, Countess of Dudley
Publisher: Hutchinson & Co. (Paternoster Row, London, England, U.K.)