The temperature has dropped considerably in the last two days, so my thoughts are now turning to dishes that can act as mini internal radiators.
I look forward to winter for two reasons: hefty, intense, meaty pies and substantial soups. I think this coming week may involve a trip to the butcher to get some cubed braising steak to make my absolute favourite, favourite pie: Steak, mushroom and stout. Why no kidneys, I hear you ask? I have nothing against offal itself – if anything, I think that using all the parts of an animal is wonderful and unwasteful but I am not the biggest fan of the texture of our filtering friends. That and they process URINE. URINE. When you buy kidneys, they still contain traces of it. Urgh. Yes, I know that in these times of molecular gastronomy and offal renaissance, I am being rather square. A girl has to have principles though. In the place of kidneys I choose portabella mushrooms to simulate that resistant, juicy mouthfeel without any of the ick factor.
The recipe I'll make this weekend comes from, in method, a Delia one for individual pies, but I make one big, fat pie. I'm not sure whether to use puff or shortcrust pastry, wherever the mood takes me, I guess.
The recipe is pretty longwinded, so I won't pain over putting it in here, but you can find it at http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/individual-steak-mushroom-and-kidney-pies,720,RC.html
Delia makes her own pastry, but for convenience, I buy the stuff from the supermarket. I've made this recipe lots of times and continue to tailor it. I like to cut the onions small, never have beef dripping to hand so just use a combination of olive oil and butter, and substitute half the beef stock with Guinness Extra Stout. It still reduces down to the most sublime, unctuous tar. I'm quite excited this time too because I've just acquired some Geo. Watkins Mushroom Ketchup, which I think will make a rich substitution for the Worcestershire sauce.
Although in total, this does take some time to make, you can break it into stages rather than doing it all in one go. A word of caution: if you must do this all together, please let the filling cool before you attempt to top it with pastry - otherwise you'll find that the pastry starts sagging and tearing before you can even get it anywhere near the oven.
The end result is just fantastic. I would quite like to try making a pudding version of this too...perhaps I'll try it this week. Exciting!