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Steak with Friends
by Rick Tramonto with Mary Goodbody
Steak and kidney pie is traditional pub food that has long been popular in England. When I worked in the United Kingdom back in the 1990s, I had never heard of it, much less tasted it until I stopped at a pub in the north of England called the Slaughtered Calf in the village of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. I was blown off the bar stool with the first forkful. After that, I made a point of trying it as often as I could during my years abroad. I now make it in the cold months when friends come over. It's warm and homey and tastes so good, you don't need much more than a tossed salad for a full meal. If you like kidneys, you will like this. If you are not sure you like kidneys, you will like them here.
Serves 4 to 6
· 2 pounds chuck steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
· Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
· 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more if needed
· 1/2 pound lamb kidneys, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
· 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
· 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
· 2 onions, chopped
· 3 carrots, roughly chopped
· 1 clove garlic, chopped
· 4 cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
· 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
· 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
· 1 teaspoon canned tomato puree
· 1 bay leaf
· 1 quart veal jus or beef or chicken stock, preferably homemade, or more if needed
· 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
· 1½ sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed (about two-thirds of a 17.3-ounce package)
· 1 large egg, beaten
Generously season the beef with salt and black pepper In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot sear the meat, turning the cubes as they cook to insure even browning, for 2 to 3 minutes, until caramelized. Transfer the meat to a Dutch oven or similar large flame- proof casserole dish. Leave the meat drippings in the sauté pan.
Season the kidneys well with salt, black pepper, and the cayenne. Heat the pan drippings over medium heat. When hot, sear the kidneys, turning, for 4 to 6 minutes, until golden brown. Add more oil to the pan if necessary. Transfer to the Dutch oven.
In the same sauté pan melt the butter over medium-high heat and sauté the onions, carrots, and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to release their liquid. Transfer the vegetables to the Dutch oven, along with as much of the pan juices as you can.
Set the Dutch oven over medium heat and stir in the flour so that it coats the ingredients. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and then stir in the thyme, tomato puree, and bay leaf. Add the stock. There should be enough to barely cover the meat. If not, pour more stock into the pot until the meat is covered. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and skim any impurities that rise to the surface.
Simmer the mixture gently, partially covered, for about 1½ hours. Adjust the heat up or down to maintain the simmer and skim the surface several times during cooking. At a gentle simmer, there should be no need to add more liquid. The braising liquid will reduce and thicken somewhat and intensify in flavor.
Check the beef for tenderness; if not fork-tender continue to cook for up to 30 minutes longer (The livers will be tender, no need to check them).
Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf. Transfer the beef and kidney filling to a 9-inch pie dish and let cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Brush the rim of the pie dish with the beaten egg. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1/2 sheet of the puff pastry so that it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut a strip of pastry about % inch wide. Lay the strip on the rim of the pie dish, pressing it gently so that it adheres to the egg. The strip of pastry will help the top stay in place. Brush the pastry with egg.
Roll the remaining sheet of puff pastry so that is about 1/4 inch thick. It must be larger than the pie dish. If necessary, roll the remaining scraps of the 1/2 sheet of pastry into the dough to make it large enough.
Carefully drape the pastry over the filling and push down around the side to seal. Crimp the edge with the tines of a fork for a neat finish. Cut a few steam vents in the top and brush completely with the egg. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
Let the pie rest for 8 to 10 minutes before slicing to serve.
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