Brace yourselves. We are about to head into Offal Territory.
More misinformation has been spread about offal than practically any other food group. If we haven’t tasted offal, then we know someone who has and they don’t have a good word to say about it. If we have tasted offal it’s uniformly horrible, and we can’t wait to spread the bad news. We turn our noses up at the mere thought of liver or kidneys, vowing never to try it.
My mother, thank goodness, never baulked at offal and served it to us regularly. When my fiancé and I started living together, I cooked him kidneys for the first time in his life and he was blown away. When our children came along, it was a different matter. My kids would eat just about anything, but they couldn’t be persuaded to eat breaded kidneys, or pâté, or thinly sliced liver and onions. With the exception of home-made pâté, and this pie, if I want to eat offal these days, I must buy it in a restaurant. No wonder liver and onions is on the menu of every second pub bistro menu in the country. People love it, but it’s a guilty pleasure.
This pie is an exception to the universally accepted rule that British cuisine is horrible. British cuisine is not horrible. British cuisine is fantastic. For too long, British cuisine has been made by timid cooks – that’s what has damaged the Brits’ culinary reputation. The English, bless them, have a particularly bad rap as purveyors of hideous offal dishes and it’s true that much has been done to get in the way of great flavours and cook the bejeebus out of this unique food. Tripe and onions, anyone?
Hopefully, you will try this, taste the bold flavours, rejoice in the honesty and robustness of the meal and re-acquaint yourself with this great winter stand-by. Don’t let it go the way of tripe and onions oblivion.
Serves 4 to 6
750g chuck steak and 4 lamb kidneys OR 850g steak and kidney; 2 tbsp plain flour; 1 tbsp oil; 1 onion, diced; 30g butter; 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce; 1 tblsp tomato paste; 1/2 cup red wine (optional); 1 cup beef stock; 125g button mushrooms, sliced; 1/2 tsp dried thyme; 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley; 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed; 1 egg, lightly beaten
Trim the meat of any excess fat and sinew and cut into 2cm cubes. Very carefully, slice the sinew from the kidneys. Quarter them and trim away any white fat. Cut into smaller chunks if you want, but no smaller than 2cm pieces. Place the flour in a plastic bag with the meat and kidneys and toss gently.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Add the butter to the pan, brown the meat and kidneys in batches and then return all the meat, kidneys and onion to the pan.
Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, wine, stock, mushrooms, thyme and parsley to the pan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Season to taste, and allow to cool. Spoon into a large pie dish (I use a pyrex pie dish, which holds enough for 6 hefty serves).
Preheat the oven to 210C.
Cut two or three 1 cm strips from the edge of the pastry and press onto the rim of the dish, sealing the joins with a bit of the beaten egg. Place the pastry on the pie, trim the edges and cut two steam holes in the pastry. Decorate the pie with leftover pastry if desired and brush the top with egg.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
$10.00 for 4 to 6 large serves