This is good enough to lick and posess
I have an off an on relationship with cider. I think I like the idea of it more than I like the result. Of course, much of that is probably because getting a good one is hard work in parts of the UK. Ironic considering that other parts of the UK reckon they pretty much invented the stuff. Well, we British are the masters of inventing something good, then creating a crappy version to sell to ourselves. My favourite was the one sold at the French house in Soho, London. Though, that might have been the drunken atmosphere.
Regular readers of the blog may notice that I occasionally have dipped into fantasy tavern mode. To explain: I am writing a massive fantasy called Dirt at the moment (first four books are out now) and it features a fair few taverns. These tend to be very simple places that serve just one or two beers or wines and one or two dishes. Big soups with bread, pies, cheese and ham, that sort of thing. This recipe really fits into that little world; a seriously hearty dish that would cuddle up to and love any passing traveller.
Although you can use lamb kidneys, ox is better for this one - the richness will be appreciated as it fights for attention with the booze.
- Good braising steak and ox kidneys – you need about 3 times as much steak than kidney
- 1 large onion
- 5 cloves garlic
- olive oil for frying
- Handful of Sage
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Beef Stock
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- Self Raising Flour and Shredded Suet – twice as much flour as suet
Make a pastry from Self-raising Flour and Shredded suet with a little salt and bound together with a little water. I can't predict the size of your bowl, but you don’t need to be very accurate here! Mix it to a firm dough, then put it in a bag in the fridge.
Chop your beef and kidneys into cubes and fry in batches till nicely browned. Set aside to cool.
Fry the onions and garlic till golden and then add a couple of tablespoons of plain flour – you may need a little more oil.
Fry gently, then add a little rich beef stock to deglaze the pan and make a very thick gravy.
Add around a cup or so of cider and let the whole lot thicken up. Remember that we are making a pud that will stand up; thickness is required, but don't turn it into cement.
Add the chopped herbs and a tablespoon of Worcester sauce. Check the seasoning.
Reduce a little more till you have a thick gravy, and then add it to the beef and kidneys – you are looking to give the meat a thick coating, not drown it!
Set it aside to cool properly. It is much easier to make this with the filling cool.
Take you dough from the fridge and roll it out to about 5 mil or so thickness – you don’t want this too thin or it will break, but you don’t want it too heavy either. Be gentle with it and make sure there are no holes.
Butter a pudding bowl and line it with the dough, allowing lots to hang over the edge.
Fill the bowl with the steak and kidney, packing it down, till it is completely full.
Bring in the sides of the dough to create a lid and squeeze it tightly shut.
Cover with pleated greaseproof paper and foil and tie with string.
Steam in a large saucepan with the lid on for at least 4 hours – maybe 5. Make sure the water does not boil away!
Once cooked, remove from the pan and turn upside down on a plate – carefully! This is when you discover whether you have sealed it properly or made the gravy too thin!
My mother always served this with boiled potatoes and beans, which is nice enough. But if you want some fun, why not roast off some butternut squash and paprika and serve that with slices of apples (roasted for just a few seconds at the end) to compliment the cider. You may not even need potatoes, to be honest. And of course, you probably ought to have some serious jugs of cold cider to go with the meal.