While sheltering from the incessant downpour out at the swapmeet yesterday, it occurred to me that I might finally have an opportunity to make steak and kidney (or, as Mum calls it, 'Kate and Sidney') pudding (p130). Since I'm not a big fan of kidney, I'd been waiting for an opportunity to cook this when Mum and Dad were around to help me eat it.
It takes a full four hours to steam, so I had to get it cooking by early afternoon. We headed away from the swapmeet early - noone was hanging around in that weather - and stopped off at New World on the way for ingredients.
I was able to get suet for the pastry, but New World didn't seem to have any of those handy pre-chopped steak and kidney packs, or in fact any kidney at all. I'd seen some at the local Countdown, though, so when we got back, I headed back out into the rain on a quick mission to Countdown.
Unfortunately, they no longer had the steak and kidney packs I'd seen there just a day or two ago. After wandering up and down the meat section in the hope that I'd somehow overlooked it, I decided I'd have to settle for a plain steak pudding.
By the time I got home, I was starting to run short on time. I quickly mixed up the suet pastry - a simple combination of flour, baking powder, salt, suet and water. I rolled out the pastry and used it to line a pudding basin.
Next, the filling. I cut up my chuck steak and coated it in seasoned flour. I placed the chunks of meat inside my lined pudding basin along with chopped onion. The final addition to the filling is a mixture of tomato paste, mixed herbs and water. I poured this over the meat, the rolled out the remaining pastry and placed it on top, carefully pressing the edges together.
Interestingly, baking powder is listed amongst the filling ingredients, but it doesn't get a mention in the actual instructions. Pretty sure that's a misprint.
In exactly the same way as I'd cook a sweet pudding, I covered the bowl with pleated foil, tied it with string, and lowered it onto a trivet in simmering water. So I guess when I said my prune pudding was my second-to-last steamed pudding, I was wrong - I'd forgotten about this one!
The pudding steamed for four hours, during which it only required occasional checking and topping up of the water. It's impossible to tell if the pudding is cooked or not, so you just have to go by cooking time.
When the four hours were up, I took out the pudding and lifted the tinfoil. The pastry looked sort of anaemic and soggy on the top, but after consultation with Mum and Dad, we decided it was cooked, but that maybe some of the water had got in under the foil. I threw it under the fan grill for a couple of minutes to brown up a bit while I got the rest of the meal on the table.
The recipe says you can either unmould the pudding our serve it out of the basin. I should have taken the safe option here, but I wanted to see if it would unmould properly. And if it did, that would make a much better photo.
I turned the basin over onto a plate, and I could feel the weight shifting from basin to plate. A small amount of meat juices dribbled out, but nothing to cause concern - until I tried lifting the basin. The filling of the pudding had certainly transferred to the plate: it was in fact threatening to overflow all over the bench. The pastry, on the other hand, had stayed in the basin. I guess the join between the lining and lid wasn't strong enough.
We transferred the filling into a slightly more accommodating dish, and I scraped out the pastry from the bowl so we could use it to mop up the gravy. It actually came away from the basin surprisingly easily.
Well, my pudding was in bits, looking more like a stew than anything else, but it tasted really good! I'd worried that the meat wouldn't cook enough merely by steaming in pastry, and that the onions would still be raw. Both were cooked through beautifully in a rich meaty gravy. Yum.
So maybe it fell to bits. Maybe it didn't have the kidney in it (no loss, to my mind) but it made a good meal in the end, and that's what matters. My advice: if you decide to make this one, just serve it out of the basin. It'll be a whole lot tidier.
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