Special Steak and Kidney Pudding

A steamed steak and kidney pudding looks evocatively old fashioned, but it can be a leaden affair. However, with the following light crust, enriched with butter and spice, and a rich and tasty filling which has been precooked so that the crust doesn’t have to steam for so long, it is a real treat. Use very tender lamb’s kidneys unless you can find calves’, the best kidneys of all. Start well in advance, the day before if you like.

Ingredients

For the Filling

  • 25 g (1 oz) plain flour
  • 1 kg (2 lb) lean stewing steak, cut into
  • 2.5 cm (1 in) pieces
  • 75 g (3 oz) butter
  • 1 very large onion, sliced
  • 250 g (8 oz) chestnut mushrooms, halved
  • 2 teaspoons juniper berries, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 or 5 whole cloves
  • 150 ml (½ pint) stout
  • 150 ml (½ pint) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 6 lamb’s kidneys, skinned, halved or quartered and cored or 3 calves kidneys, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper

For the Suet Crust

  • 175 g (6 oz) self-raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground mace
  • ½ whole nutmeg, grated
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 125 g (4 oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 75 g (3 oz) shredded vegetable or beef suet
  • 75 g (3 oz) butter, frozen
  • 1 egg

Method

Season the plain flour with salt and pep per and use to coat the steak. Melt 50 g (2 oz) of the butter in a large, heavy frying pan, and fry the onion until golden. Transfer to an ovenproof casserole. Cook the mushrooms in the pan for a few minutes, then add to the casserole. Melt the remaining butter in the pan and brown the beef all over. Add the meat to the casserole with the juniper berries, bay leaves, cloves and any leftover flour. Stir in the stout, orange juice and tomato purée and season.

Cover and cook in a preheated oven, 240°C, 475°F, Gas Mark 9 for 15-20 minutes until beginning to bubble, then reduce the temperature to 150°C, 300°F, Gas Mark 2. Cook for about 1 hour, then add the kidneys and cook for a further 30 minutes until the meat is just tender. Check for seasoning and remove the bay leaves. Leave until cold.

Generously butter a 1.8 litre (3 pint) pudding basin. Mix together the self-raising flour, spices, seeds, breadcrumbs and suet. Holding the frozen butter in a cloth at one end, grate it coarsely into the mixture, mixing it in very lightly with your fingertips. Beat the egg in a measuring jug and bring it up to 175 ml (6 fl oz) with water. Gradually stir the liquid into the flour mixture, forming a soft, elastic dough. Form into a ball.

Roll out the dough fairly thinly on a lightly floured surface to a large round and cut out one-quarter of the dough in a triangle shape to use for a lid; set aside and keep covered with a tea towel. Shape the remaining three-quarters of dough into a cone and ease into the pudding basin, gently pressing on to the base and sides. Do not trim off the overhang. Add the filling and then fold the pastry overhang back over the filling. Reroll the remaining pastry into a circle for the lid. Moisten the pastry edges and place the lid on top, pressing the edges together to seal firmly.

Wrap the pudding basin in grease proof paper and foil as for the Sussex pond pudding. Fill a large saucepan with enough water to come halfway up the pudding basin. Cover and simmer for about 2 hours, topping up with boiling water if necessary. Remove the basin from the saucepan. Serve the pudding straight from the basin with a white cloth tied round the lid.

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