If you are not well acquainted with the subject, I recommend that you try this article that introduces the issue of Steak and Kidney pie, and all things offal!

Alas there are no pictures of the ultimate Pie, but it should NOT look like this.

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The ingredients for the pastry are likely already in your kitchen, but you need the icy precision of a surgeon to pull the trick off. It all starts so simple. Some flour, a couple of eggs, and a little bit of water. You make it into a stiff ball of ick. Place the ball of ick in the refrigerate to rest, this is also an ideal time for you to also take a quick nap. At least an NFL game nap, three hours.

Temperature is crucial in this recipe, if at all possible make you kitchen colder than the North Pole. So set the air conditioner on the highest settings possible.

If you do not have a wooden Rolling Pin, now would be the time to stick a bottle of booze on the freezer. I do not recommend beer or wine, both have a tendency of ‘blowing their lids’, it’s a physics thing involving water and the way it expands when in a solid form, aka ice.

My personal preference is Vodka for this mission. It is colorless, odorless, cheap, and who gives a damn if it has been in the freezer? You can not say the same thing about a good Cognac or Single Malt.

After a trip to the pub, or a quick nap, or an NFL game three hours, it is time to move on to the next stage. You will need a pound of butter, oh and it has to be real butter. Although this is a less than scientific approach, I have a general rule of thumb. If it comes in a big plastic tub and the label says Margarine, this is not what you really want.

Your earlier efforts in temperature control now have your kitchen colder than the arctic, This is perfect. While it is OK to put on your Ski Jacket, I do not recommend gloves. Gloves will hinder the process.

The cook books claim that any cool flat surface will work, and indeed, if you have chilled your kitchen down as recommended, you can use one of the counters. Failing that, take out the cutting board that you have had in the freezer chilling for several days.

Dust the counter, cutting board and floor with flour. Actually the floor is optional, and another story involving Roast duck and gravy, a story for another day.

Take the ball of ick out of the fridge and stick it in the center of your desired work spot.

It is going to be a little on the grumpy side, well how would you feel if someone mashed you into a ball with some water and a couple of eggs? The best way to tame the beast is to sprinkle some flour on it. It will calm it down.

Time is of the essence, grab your pound of butter and cut about 1/4 of it into thin slices. From the freezer, it is time for the Vodka.

Roll the ball of stuff out until it is the size of a dinner plate. Put some of the butter slices on one half, Fold the evil thing over, and take the Vodka bottle to it again until it is once again the size of two dinner plates, add butter and fold over.

By now, both you and the dough need a rest. If the butter melts it is game over. So stick it in the fridge, put the Vodka bottle in the freezer, and go relax for 20 minutes.

After a few iterations of this, you have the perfect product. This is the pie crust that has it all!

It is not easy to make. I made light of it, but it is a truly an art form.

I do not like to fiddle with recipes, actually that is a lie, I fiddle with them every time I cook. However the only addition to this recipe that really works is a six pack of really cold beer. All of the vigorous use of the frozen Vodka bottle and the fact that you are dressed for the Arctic will have taken their toll on you. So while the dough is resting grab a cold one, take your woolly hat off (Canadians call them Toques), and head to a warmer part of the house with your very cold can of beer.

The numbness in your fingers will stop after a few minutes, you should then be able to operate the TV remote control. Obviously TV is a very personal thing, but I would try to avoid National Geographic specials filmed in really remote and cold parts of the world (it will induce a fear of going back in the sub-zero kitchen).

Don’t worry about the dough in your refrigerator, you instinctively will know when it is time. Obviously different TV markets use different adverts. I use the two Gecko system. Two adverts for Geico Insurance tells me that it is time to put my woolly hat back on and head back to the kitchen and abuse the dough with the Vodka bottle and more butter.

It is hard to estimate the exact prep time, there are many variables, heat, hight above sea level and humidity are obviously factors. But in general terms I would rate this as an eight to ten Geico TV commercial adventure.

In between the naps and dangerous excursions into the world of frost bite, the Steak and Kidney filling needs to be addressed. But lets keep that story for next time.

Simon Barrett

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