This rich and flavoursome steak and kidney pudding is full of juicy meat, swirled in a thick gravy sauce that will just melt in the mouth.
Celebrating British Food & Cooking
I have very fond memories of my grandmother’s cooking. She was a very traditional cook and my childhood dinners were good old British standards like shepherds or cottage pies and suet puddings like this one or bacon and onion roly-poly.
I think that her choices were influenced by wartime rationing which only stopped in the UK in 1955. The need to provide filling, substantial meals with limited ingredients means using what is available.
Children who cleared their plates would get dessert (aka pudding), confusing I know! Granny’s apple crumbles with lashings of hot custard were legendary.
A Bit of History
Steak and kidney pudding is a traditional British dish consisting of diced steak, onion, and kidney—generally from a lamb or pig—cooked in brown gravy and then encased in a soft suet pastry and steamed for several hours. Mushrooms and bacon are sometimes added to the meat, and stout or other types of ale may be mixed with the gravy. Since then steak and kidney pudding has become one of Britain’s national dishes. It is known by various rhyming slang names, including “Kate and Sydney Pud
The first printed recipe by Mrs Beeton dates from 1861, and since then steak and kidney pudding has become one of Britain’s national dishes.
While the pudding steams, the seasoned meat and onions mingle, creating a tempting, fragrant pool of gravy.
Traditionally served with mashed potatoes and green peas, this is cold-weather food at its best. The suet-crust pastry is substantial and very filling and the most appetising aroma fills the kitchen when you turn out the pudding and cut it open. It’s also one of those dishes that leave you free to do other things around the house while it cooks. And it’s good-natured enough not to mind if you leave it 10 minutes too long … as long as there’s water in the pot, that is.
And far from being regarded as a culinary fossil, steak and kidney pudding is reappearing on the menus of pubs across the country. Served with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables, it makes a warming, filling dinner.
Unlike most other pastries, which are baked, suet crust is usually boiled or steamed and works well for both sweet and savoury dishes. According to Mrs Beeton, the pastry can also be baked, but in the process loses some of its richness.
Suet crust pastry is made from suet, flour, salt and water. It always contains baking powder as a raising agent. Self-raising flour works well when making this pastry, or you can add 4 tsp of baking powder to any 450g / 1lb of plain flour.
Suet can be bought in ready-to-use packets or fresh from the butcher. When using fresh suet remove the skin and shred the suet finely before using.
There are recipes for steak and kidney pudding the length and breadth of England and not two of them are alike. The only things they have in common are suet crust pastry, stewing steak and kidneys.
Shop Bought Puddings
Of course, you can always cheat and buy one from Waitrose.
If you have a craving but can’t wait 3 hours then I can recommend the individual puddings from Hollands. You can’t beat a homemade one like my Grandmother used to make but for shop-bought ones, they are pretty good.S
You don’t need much in the way of equipment to make a traditional steak and kidney pudding, but for best results, you’ll want a decent pudding basin or steamer.
If you like tender slow-cooked meat then try the Lamb Casserole.
Other Recipes You Maybe Interested in …..
Steak and kidney pudding
- 3 fresh lambs' kidneys
- 700 g well-marbled braising steak trimmed, cut into 2.5cm/1in cubes
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4-5 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 onion medium, peeled, chopped
- 200 ml red wine
- 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 500 ml beef stock good quality
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
For the suet pastry
- 350 g self-raising flour
- 175 g shredded beef suet Atora
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- butter for greasing
- Preheat the oven to 170ºC/350ºF/Gas 3.
- Rinse the kidneys and pat dry with kitchen paper. Cut the kidneys, in half, snip out the white cores and cut the kidneys into roughly 1.5cm pieces.
- Place the cubes of steak into a large, strong plastic bag and the kidney pieces into another bag. Divide the flour between the two bags, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Tie the ends of the bags and shake until the steak and kidneys are thoroughly coated in the seasoned flour.
- Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the steak, in batches, over a medium heat, adding extra oil as needed, until the steak is well-browned all over. Remove the steak from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a flameproof casserole.
- Return the frying pan to the heat and repeat the process with the kidneys, frying on both sides until well-browned. Remove the kidneys from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to the casserole.
- Return the frying pan to the heat, add the remaining oil, then add the onion. Cook the onion over a low heat, stirring often, for five minutes, or until softened. Stir the cooked onion into the casserole with the beef and kidneys.
- Deglaze the frying pan with the wine, bringing it to the boil while stirring to lift all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour the mixture immediately over the beef, kidneys and onion.
- Strip the thyme leaves from the stalks and add them to the casserole. Stir in the bay leaf, beef stock and tomato purée.
- Bring the beef mixture to the boil. Remove three ladlefuls of the sauce for gravy and set aside in a small pan to cool. When cooled, set it aside in the fridge for use as gravy.
- Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven to cook for 1½-2 hours, or until the beef is tender (stir the mixture halfway through cooking).
- Return the casserole to the hob and simmer the mixture for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. When the sauce is thick enough, remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- Meanwhile, for the suet pastry, put the flour, suet and salt into a large bowl and mix until well combined.
- Stir in enough water to make a soft dough – you'll probably need around 300ml of water. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and bring it together to form a ball. Knead the dough lightly, then remove a generous quarter of the dough to make a lid for the pudding and set aside. Roll out the remaining pastry into a rough 5cm circle (the size of an average dinner plate). It should be about 1cm thick.
- Butter a 1.5 litre pudding basin and line it with the pastry. The pastry should reach 1cm above the top of the dish. Press the pastry against the sides of the basin and trim neatly.
- Spoon the steak and kidney mixture into the pastry-lined pudding basin. Brush the rim of the pastry with water. Roll the remaining pastry into a circle just large enough to sit on top of the pudding dish and place it over the filling. Trim into place and press the edges together well to seal.
- Cover the dish with a large circle of baking parchment, with a pleat in the middle to allow for expansion. Cover the parchment with a circle of aluminium foil, again with a pleat. Secure both covers tightly with string. Create a carrying handle by tying the excess string across the top of the basin – this will help you lift the pudding out of the pan after it’s cooked.
- Place the pudding onto an upturned saucer or small trivet in a large, deep saucepan and add enough just-boiled water to come halfway up the sides of the basin. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and place on the hob over a medium heat. Steam the pudding in simmering water for 2½ hours, adding more water as necessary.
- When the pudding is cooked through, turn off the heat and carefully lift the basin from the water. Let the pudding stand for five minutes.
- Heat the reserved gravy on the hob, stirring, until the gravy is bubbling and heated through. Strain through a small sieve into a warmed jug.
- Cut the string, foil and paper off the pudding basin. Run a blunt-ended knife around the inside of the pudding basin to loosen the sides of the pudding and invert it onto a deep plate. Serve in generous wedges with hot gravy.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is beef suet?
Beef suet is the hard crumbly fat from around a cow’s kidneys.
What is suet pastry?
A suet pastry is a dough that combines suet and flour with a bit of milk or water. It can be made sweet or savoury by adding sugar or salt.
Where can I buy suet?
Suet can be found in the baking aisle. Modern suet is treated and dusted with a bit of flour to keep the shreds from sticking together.
How many calories are in steak and kidney pudding?
My steak and kidney pudding has 857 calories per serving.
What is Atora?
Atora is a British brand of suet.
Are suet and lard the same?
No. Suet is the hard fat from around cows’ and sheep’s kidneys whereas lard is a soft fat from pigs.
What can I use instead of suet?
Suet is fat, so other fats like lard or butter can be used. The main benefit of using suet is its higher melting and burning temperature.