The traditional version of homemade steak and kidney pie has been one of my favourite meals for many years. I have always resisted the temptation to tamper too much with the recipe for what is a classic dish, believing that improvement on near perfection would be nigh on impossible. When, however, I happened to come by some pristine, fresh oysters yesterday from Loch Fyne, I decided to do an adaptation of an old steak and kidney pudding recipe and incorporate them in a version of my favourite pie. Although I normally subscribe to the belief that the best way to eat oysters is raw, with perhaps a little squeeze of lemon juice, I was more than delighted with these results.
Ingredients for Two Servings
3/4lb stewing steak
1/2lb ox kidney
1/2lb puff pastry
4 large fresh oysters
2 pints fresh beef stock
Baby new potatoes (quantity as desired)
Brussels sprouts (quantity as desired)
1 tsp chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Beaten egg for glazing
A little bit of vegetable oil for browning
Begin by adding a little bit of vegetable oil to a large pot. Bring it up to a medium heat, add the steak and kidney and season with salt and pepper. Stir on a high heat to evenly seal and brown. This should take three or four minutes.
Pour in the beef stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for an hour and a quarter. Turn off the heat, put the lid on the pot and leave for what will need to be at least an hour to cool. Do not be tempted to assemble your pie while the meat is hot as it will make your pastry soggy before it can rise and totally spoil the whole dish.
Shuck your oysters, careful to reserve the liquid in the shells as well as the oyster meat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooled steak and kidney to a 9" x 6" pie dish. Pour the oysters on top (including the liquid) at regular intervals. Pour in enough of the cooled beef stock to almost but not quite cover the meat. Put your oven on to preheat to 220C/450F.
Roll out your pastry on a clean, floured surface to a rectangle 10" x 7" (essentially, an inch each way larger than the pie dish). Carefully lay the pastry on top of the pie dish and tuck and crimp it around the edges. Glaze with the beaten egg and make a "+" shaped cross in the centre to serve as a steam vent. Put it in to your oven for thirty to thirty-five minutes until the pastry is beautifully risen and golden.
Wash the potatoes and add them to a pot of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer for thirty minutes. Add the sprouts to a pot of boiling, salted water and simmer for twelve to fifteen minutes.
When the pie is ready, sit it to the side for a few minutes to rest while you finish the preparation of your potatoes and sprouts. Drain the potatoes and return them to the empty pot. Add a little butter and the chives. Gently swirl the pot to ensure all the potatoes are evenly coated. Drain the sprouts, cut your pie and assemble your meal for service.