When I lived and worked in Glasgow many years ago I was introduced to some New Year Scottish customs. One was that the house should be cleaned for the New Year, ready for the ‘First Footing’. A tradition where a dark haired man should cross the threshold bearing gifts of coal ‘to warm the house’ and a dram of Whisky ‘to warm the heart’; but the most important was the steamed Steak and Kidney Pudding for New Year’s Day. I was reminded of this when an old girlfriend (not Scottish!) messaged me to wish me a Happy New Year and told me that she was making a Steak and Kidney Pudding. I haven’t had one for years. She sent me her recipe, based on her Mother’s. She was unable to give me quantities etc because, like all good home cooks, she chucks all the ingredients in to a pot — and it works!!
However for those that may want to attempt to make this dish I have given a recipe that is more detailed and should be fool proof. It takes a while to do, but the result is worthwhile. I have also added my own twist on it by adding a bottle of Guinness. Hope you don’t mind Sarah!
Cook: 2 and a half hours PLUS an overnight rest in the fridge
Prep. time: 30/40 minutes
Time consuming and a bit fiddly but worth the effort.
2 ½ tbsp dripping or vegetable oil
2 Onions halved and sliced
1 large carrot, diced
4 Sliced mushrooms
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp English mustard
400g diced lean stewing steak
2 kidneys (about 150g), halved, cored and cut into chunks
200ml strong beef stock
FOR THE SUET PASTRY
300g plain flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
150g beef suet
soft butter for greasing
Step by Step Instructions
Melt 1 1/2 tbsp of the dripping in a large, non-stick pan. Fry the onions, carrot and bay leaves for 15 mins, stirring frequently, until golden.
Mix the flour, mustard powder and some seasoning in a large bowl, then toss in the steak and kidneys until they are coated. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. Add the rest of the fat/oil to the pan and fry the meat until browned. Add the beef stock to the remaining flour and whisk. We don’t want lumps!
Pour the Guinness and stir over the heat until thickened to a gravy. Return the vegetables to the pan, add the sliced mushrooms, cover tightly and simmer on a very low light for 1 hr 15 mins/1 hr 30 mins, stirring frequently, so that the flour in the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If necessary, add a drop or two of water to loosen the consistency, but not too much as you want a thick gravy. The meat won’t be completely tender, but it will cook further in the steaming process. Set aside to cool or chill overnight.
Cover the basin with a double layer of greased baking parchment and foil, pleating them first to allow for expansion (alternatively, use muslin). Then tie with string, adding a string handle for easy lifting in and out of the pan.
Put an upturned heatproof saucer or similar, in the base of a large pan and put the pudding basin on top. Pour in boiling water from the kettle to come 3/4 up the side of the basin, then cover the pan tightly with a lid. If you can’t close the pan, cover tightly with foil instead and leave to simmer for 2 – 2 ½ hrs over a low heat. If you need to, top with more boiling water, but if the seal is tight, this shouldn’t be required.
To make the suet pastry, put the flour, baking powder and suet in a bowl with 1/2 tsp salt. Pour in 150ml cold water and stir with a round-bladed knife to bring the mixture together as a dough. Tip onto a lightly floured surface, knead briefly until smooth, then cut off 1/4 and set aside.
Very generously grease a 1.2-litre pudding basin. Roll out the biggest piece of dough to a circle large enough to line the inside of the basin right up to the rim. Press the pastry into the basin so that it is an even thickness, then spoon in the steak & kidney mixture. Roll out the remaining pastry to make a round to fit as a lid on top of the basin. Brush round the edge with water, then place on top of the filling, wetted-side down, and seal all the way round with the sides to enclose.
Remove the pudding from the pan and leave to settle for 5 mins, then turn out onto a plate, scatter with parsley (if you like), and serve with creamed potato and a Christmas veg mix of carrots, sprouts and peas. Either drink a Guinness with it, or a good glass of red Burgundy!!
Bon Appetit and a Happy New Year