The everyday availability of the muslin pudding cloth (replacing animal viscera) caused something of a culinary revolution and steamed puddings became the rage, including this old favourite. While the recipe for this delicious British staple hasn’t changed much since the 17th century, today’s palate prefers to pair steak and kidney with mushrooms rather than the original oysters, though you can always add a few of these too if you wish. Allow about 5 hours to make this – including a good 2 hours steaming.
- 800g–1kg well-marbled braising beef (shin is good)
- 3 very fresh lamb’s kidneys
- 2–3 medium onions, peeled and sliced or diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4–5 tablespoons beef dripping, plus a bit more (or butter) for greasing
- 100g chestnut mushrooms, diced
- 100g carrots, grated
- 4–5 fresh sprigs of thyme or rosemary
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon tomato purée
- 1–2 beef Oxo cubes, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon English mustard powder
- 200ml red wine
- 200ml Guinness
- about 10 drops of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
- a few splashes of brown sauce, preferably Chef (optional)
- 3 tablespoons cornflour, mixed with a splash of cold water
- 600ml good-quality beef stock (see page 144, or shop-bought or from Oxo cubes or even just plain water)
- 200g Atora beef suet
- 420g plain flour
- 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
- at least 175ml cold water
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a heavy-bottomed pan or casserole, brown the beef and kidneys. Then remove from the pan and set aside.
Next add the onions, garlic and beef dripping, and brown them.
Once nicely caramelised, add the mushrooms, carrots, herbs and tomato purée, and continue to sweat on a medium high heat. When they have started to colour, return the beef and kidneys to the pan and continue to cook till any liquid has evaporated, with the remnants concentrated at the bottom of the pan.
Stir in the crumbled Oxo cube and mustard powder, then deglaze with the red wine, Guinness and Worcestershire sauce, and cook till reduced by half (if you are afraid of it burning, use a lid, slightly off-centre so that steam can escape). Taste for seasoning – I like to add just a couple of splashes of Chef brown sauce.
Next add the watered-down cornflour and beef stock, and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 hour. Keep checking and stirring – you don’t want it to stick at all. Set aside until it is ready to steam. (Steaming will take a further 2 hours so don’t worry about the beef not being tender yet.)
Now make the suet pastry. Put the suet, flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl with a good pinch of salt. Add the cold water – you may need more, as you want a firm but moist dough – and mix. I use a knife for this, then my hands to bring it all together.
Grease a 1.1-litre or 1.2-litre pudding basin top to bottom with beef dripping or butter – you don’t want the suet to stick.
Flour your work surface and roll out approximately three quarters of the dough to a thickness of about 6mm. Line the basin with this, pressing it into all the nooks and crannies. You may have some dough left over, but it comes in useful for repairs and can be frozen for another time.
Then spoon in the steak and kidney mix (removing the bay leaf and sprigs of rosemary or thyme). You may have a bit of meat left over too, but I’d rather have too much than too little. If there is liquid to spare you can always pour it over the top of the pudding as gravy when serving.
Now roll out the rest of the dough for the lid – a disc a little wider than the bowl – and brush one surface with water. Place it, wet side down, on top of the pudding and neatly fold over the edges to seal.
Place greaseproof paper over the top. Then take a muslin cloth, wet it, squeeze out the water and put it over the greaseproof. Tie in place, but not too tight as the pudding will swell. If possible, add a string handle to help you lift the pudding out of the saucepan after steaming.
Take a pan wide and tall enough, half fill it with water, and stand the pudding basin in it, on a trivet or upturned saucer, to steam. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer for 2½ hours. Take out, rest for 15 minutes and serve