It was half term and it started off badly on Wednesday where, under duress, (you know who you are) I took my 5yo to Burger King for the first time after water fun at the leisure lagoon. Using my iPhone I scanned the WeightWatchers app and decided I was going to be 'good' with a chicken salad at just 2 points with some small fries for another 5. Not too bad for lunch, I thought. Well of course it is a completely different story when you get there and the smell overwhelms you, not to mention you feel like a complete idiot ordering a salad! So a cheeseburger and small fries later oh and half of my boy's burger (as he didn't like it!) I knew it was going downhill from there.
Rather than kid myself I was going to be good for the rest of the week, I thought sod it and just indulged, rather wholeheartedly. I feasted on chocolate, cheese, kids leftovers (we all do it sometimes!) naughty Halloween choccie cakes, takeaway pizza at a Halloween/fireworks party, finishing on Sunday in this wonderfully indulgent steak and kidney pie. It didn't end there either as to top it off we had an apple & blueberry crumble for pudding!
I blame the large consumption of red wine for the week on the nursery parents evening where they kindly offer you a glass of wine. Of course this led to hubby & I polishing off a nice bottle of red with dinner and the week generally progressed to wine with dinner every night. I didn't even make it to Zumba on Thursday.
The last person to blame in my week of eating hell is my lovely husband. We were on our way home after a lovely morning with the boys, walking through Alice Holt forest. I'd planned to make my healthy cottage pie but on the way home DH put out there that he really fancied a warming steak & kidney pie. A detour to Waitrose and a few ingredients later I was in the kitchen, ale in hand, cooking away.
Now a word on our choice of ale. Admittedly we are not ale drinkers, although I reckon trying this has persuaded me otherwise, so in choosing an ale we selected Badgers Poachers Choice, a Hall & Woodhouse ale and H&W being one of our customers (Sendster) we thought this fitting. We were not disappointed by our choice as it was rich in flavour and certainly not just for making a good pie!
You'll notice there is no ProPoint calculation at the end of this recipe simply because I couldn't bring myself to work it out! I should say that the stew I made for the pie was truly delicious, and consumed on it's own with some mash potato or even some crusty bread would actually not be too bad ProPoints wise, but the All Butter Puff Pastry topping just kills your diet. But you know what? Life is too short to hold back EVERY DAY, so occassionally a bit of puff pastry is really not going to hurt. We are having the leftovers for dinner tonight but I have already binned the pastry and it will be served with brown rice as I am soooo back on WeightWatchers plan today!
You'll need for 4:
- 1 small to medium sized onion, finely diced
- 6 rashers of pancetta or streaky bacon
- 500g topside of beef, cut into small ish chunks
- 200g lambs kidneys, cut into button mushroom size
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 200g button mushrooms
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried thyme, or a few fresh sprigs if you have
- 3 heaped tbsp plain flour
- 1 beef stock pot
- Few dashes Worcester sauce
- 2 heaped tsp redcurrant jelly
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- Half a bottle (250ml) of Badger Poachers Choice Ale
- 1 x 37g pack All butter puff pastry
- 1 medium egg, beaten
- Olive oil
What to do:
In a heavy bottomed casserole dish, sweat the onions slowly with 1 – 2 tsp olive oil and a knob of butter. Add the chopped pancetta and sweat for 5 – 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Prepare the kidneys by slicing off the ends and working towards the centre bit, cutting away into large bite sized pieces.
Cut the beef into chunks. In a food bag, place the flour and a good pinch of salt and ground black or white pepper. Put the beef into the bag and toss carefully ensuring the beef chunks are all coated. Then add the beef to the onions & pancetta and stir continuously to ensure the beef does not stick. Once browned, slowly add the ale and stir continuously scraping the bottom on the pan to a get a smooth gravy like consistency. Add the carrots followed by the beef stock pot and 750ml of boiling water to the pan. Add the tomato puree, Worcester sauce, thyme and seasoning. Bring to the boil and then reduced to a simmer allowing to cook for 1 and half hours. Half hour before the end add the mushrooms. If it looks a little dry add some more water.
10 minutes before the end of cooking, heat a frying pan and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the kidneys and fry for a couple of minutes on each side on a high heat. Remove from the frying pan whilst they are still pink inside. Add the kidneys to the pan.
You can prepare the stew to this point 24-48 hours in advance. In fact this is a perfect entertaining dish as all this hard work is better done in advance and tastes better the next day! Bring to room temperature for the next stage or if you have just cooked the stew, allow to cool until it is at room temperature.
In a pie dish or roasting dish, butter the sides and bottom lightly. Place the stew into the dish.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to approx 4mm thick or to slightly large then your pie dish. Using a sharp knife, cut slices off and press along the rim of the dish all the way round. Brush with a beaten egg. Then use the remaining pastry to press down on top of the dish. Using your fingers press the lid part to the pastry around the rim. Seal using a fork to press together. Brush all over with the beaten egg and finish by using a sharp knife to make a couple of slits in the pastry lid to allow steam to escape.
Bake in a moderate oven (fan 180-190c) for about 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
Serve with your choice of green veg - we had green beans and spinach and some new potatoes.
True comfort food and home-cooking at it's best!