Steak and kidney pudding is a savoury pudding made by enclosing diced beef steak and lamb’s or pig’s kidney pieces in gravy in a suet pastry.
An early mention of Steak and Kidney Pudding appears in Bell’s New Weekly Messenger on 11 August 1839 when the writer says:
Hardbake, brandy-balls, and syllabubs have given way to “baked-tates” and “trotters;” and the olden piemen are set aside for the Blackfriars-bridge howl of “Hot beef-steak and kidney puddings!”
The first recipe for steak and kidney pudding to appear in print came from Sussex, in a book by Mrs Beeton published by Ward, Lock and Tyler in 1861. The dish is not markedly older than published recipes of the 19th century.
Suet pastry is used to line a bowl into which the steak and kidney mix is placed with onions, stock etc. A suet pastry lid is then placed on top and sealed tightly. The top is then covered with muslin cloth which is tied round the bowl. This is placed in a covered saucepan and steamed for about four hours or until the pudding is cooked. Some recipes then stipulate making a small opening in the top and pouring rich stock into the pudding ten minutes before serving.
- 2 tablespoons dripping or vegetable oil
- 2 onions, halved and sliced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1½ tablespoons plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 400 g lean stewing steak, diced
- 2 kidneys, about 150g, halved, cored and cut into chunks
- 200 ml stout
- 200 ml beef stock
For the suet pastry
- 300 g plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 150 g beef suet
- softened butter, for greasing
- chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, optional, but worth including
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the dripping in a large, non-stick pan. Fry the onions, carrot and bay leaves for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden.
- Mix the flour, mustard powder and some seasoning in a large bowl, then toss in the steak and kidneys until they are coated. Remove the vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the remaining dripping to the pan and fry the meat until browned.
- Stir the stout into the remaining flour left in the bowl, then pour into the pan of meat with the stock, and stir over the heat until thickened to a gravy. Return the vegetables to the pan, cover tightly and simmer for 1 hour 15 minutes - 1 hour 30 minutes, stirring frequently, so that the flour in the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If necessary, add a drop or two of water to loosen the consistency, but not too much as you want a thick gravy. The meat won’t be completely tender, but it will cook further in the pudding. Set aside to cool or chill overnight.
- To make the suet pastry, put the flour, baking powder and suet in a bowl with ½ teaspoon salt. Pour in 150 ml cold water and stir with a round-bladed knife to bring the mixture together as a dough. Tip onto a lightly floured surface, knead briefly until smooth, then cut off ¼ and set aside.
- Very generously grease a 1.2 litre pudding basin. Roll out the biggest piece of dough to a circle large enough to line the inside of the basin right up to the rim. Press the pastry into the basin so that it is an even thickness, then spoon in the steak & kidney mixture. Roll out the remaining pastry to make a round to fit as a lid on top of the basin. Brush round the edge with water, then place on top of the filling, wetted-side down, and seal all the way round with the sides to enclose.
- Cover the basin with a double layer of greased baking parchment and foil, pleating them first to allow for expansion (alternatively, use muslin). Then tie with string, adding a string handle for easy lifting in and out of the pan.
- Put an upturned heatproof saucer in the base of a large pan and put the pudding basin on top. Pour in boiling water from the kettle to come ¾ up the side of the basin, then cover the pan tightly with a lid. If you can’t close the pan, cover tightly with foil instead and leave to simmer for 2 hours over a low heat. If you need to, top with more boiling water, but if the seal is tight, this shouldn’t be required.
- Remove the pudding from the pan and leave to settle for 5 mins, then turn out onto a plate, scatter with parsley (if you like).