Steak And Kidney Pie
By Mike on Saturday, February 22, 2014, 12:28 - Permalink
February 2014 - I love pies, and the very best of pies (in my opinion) is a Steak and Kidney pie.
Here's how I make the perfect, rich, meaty filling for this, the King of Pies!
Most of the principles of making a good meat pie filling are discussed in the video above - but here's a recap of the really important bits:
The meat need not be expensive - in fact the best fillet steak will make quite a boring pie - we need something with more flavour, with a little fat - and in fact, containing a little bit of connective tissue - which would be inedibly tough, except when slowly braised, whereupon it dissolves and melts away into the most delicious gravy.
Brisket is a nice cut of meat, but perhaps a little greasy; skirt steak is good, but I believe the very best meat for a steak and kidney pie is ox cheek (that's right - the side of a cow's head!) - it's dark, fairly lean meat - and quite difficult to slice up owing to thin layers of whitish connective tissue running right through it, but when slow cooked, it's meltingly tender, delicious, moist and has a substantially meaty, satisfying flavour.
The Browning Process
Absolutely essential to the making of rich, delicious meaty casseroles and pie fillings is the process of browning the meat. This is something people often skip or get wrong by stopping too soon.
The meat should be cut into cubes, lightly floured, then fried in a small amount of oil over a medium heat until it is conspicuously crispy - not just transformed from pink/red to pale brown - but instead, a little bit frazzled.
Seasoning the meat during frying - either with a crumbled stock cube, or with salt and herbs, will assist and enhance the browning process.
Inadequately browned meat will tend to make a less rich pie filling - and the pieces of meat may remain chewy or tough.
Deglazing The Pan
After the meat is finished browning, the pan will be encrusted with a layer of dried and caramelised juices. Don't waste this! - Deglaze the pan by placing it over a gentle heat and adding water, wine or beer - then gently scraping with a heatproof plastic spatula or wooden spoon, until the liquid has dissolved all of the encrusted glaze.
This liquid is then poured over the meat before slow cooking.
I know not everybody likes kidneys - and more people don't like the idea of eating kidneys, but judiciously added to this dish, they're more of a seasoning than an ingredient - adding a delicious, rich, meaty depth to the pie filling.
Kidneys need a little care in preparation though - to ensure all of the tough gristly parts are cut away, then the sliced kidney pieces can be soaked in milk to make them sweeter and milder in flavour.
The pie filling needs six hours of slow cooking at a very low heat - ideally in a slow cooker - during this time, the connective tissue in the meat just dissolves away, the liquids reduce and thicken and the flavours develop and deepen.
Shortcrust is my personal favourite for the crust of a meat pie - but some people prefer flaky puff pastry.
Some people put the filling straight in a dish and only top the pie with pastry - but I prefer a full crust - a little tip to help ensure the bottom crust bakes crisp: line the bottom with a single layer of thinly-sliced (wafer thin) raw potato - this will prevent the gravy soaking into the pastry when the pie is baked - the potato slices will just cook and become part of the pie filling.
Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg before baking - this will give it a great, glossy shine and golden brown finish (unfortunately, I forgot this step when I made the single-serving pies in the video).
Pierce a hole in the top crust to allow steam to escape from the pie while it cooks.
Steak And Kidney
I'm quite serious in my claim that this is the King of Pies - I believe I could eat a steak and kidney pie every single day and never, ever get bored of them.
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