Saturday, 20 November 2010


Following on from the success of my Deconstructed Chicken and Mushroom pie, I decided to attempt another. I have always liked the classic combination of steak and kidney, and have never been squeamish about eating things like liver and kidneys: my mother cooked these, and hearts and other offal, and what are now called "forgotten cuts" when I was growing up. I know some people can be fussy about kidneys, but to be perfectly honest, when they have cooked for 2 hours in a Guinness-enriched sauce, you hardly know they are there. Because the pie mix has mushrooms in it, it seemed logical to pile the filling into the broad cup of a Portobello mushroom - as I did for the chicken and mushroom pie - and then top it off with a crisp disc of puff pastry.

The filling mix is from Nigella's How to Be A Domestic Goddess, and it is definitely best made a day in advance as it gives all the flavours a chance to deepen and meld together. The long cooking time contributes to this too. I used flat field mushrooms for the pie base, piled the filling inside, and cut discs of puff pastry for the tops. As before, I made a dainty initial for each pie - and then when I served them Jacky tried to sit down at my place. Doh!

Traditional hearty food like this demands traditional, hearty accompaniments, so it seemed appropriate to serve the steak & kidney pies with simple mashed swede and baked potatoes. I made another round of soda bread, which was greeted with "aahs!" of delight as it arrived, still steaming from the oven, at the table. The mushroom pie cups were perfect - I love the meatiness of a Portobello mushroom - really setting off the rich filling. For afters, we ate big, squidgy squares of Flourless Chocolate Brownies (ground almonds are used in place of flour) and drank mugs of Redbush tea, as the Merlot had been quickly exhausted, everyone suffering from that "Thank God it's Friday feeling!". And, as is customary at Friday night suppers, the Scrabble board was brought to the table and Nick proved his theory that "he who starts wins" - and beat us fair and square.

I am now planning the next deconstructed unreconstructed pie.... Steak and Stilton perhaps?

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