Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Favourite: Steak & Kidney Turnovers

Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls...Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine. – James Joyce, Ulysses

Extremely flaky pastry enclosing beef, mushrooms, onion, garlic and carrots
in a thick herby gravy.

OK – everyone who loves beef kidneys raise your hand. Hmmm. I don’t see many hands raised. 

I wouldn’t have been raising my hand too quickly either, until after I ate these pastries. And no, they do not give your palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine. I would suggest Mr. Joyce wasn't a fan...

The victims. Kidney $1.50; steak $5.30.
Serves 6 people.
But I am now. I was full of trepidation at the start of this exercise. But the kidney, steak, vegetables, some simple spices and herbs all combine to make something that has great nuance and depth.

Pretty tasty. That’s what I said when I tested the filling. It was far beyond what I was expecting. Far beyond.

Kidneys can be an acquired taste. In this recipe I dialled down the kidney flavour without decreasing the kidney amount. I did it by increasing other flavours in the mixture. Clever, eh?

Usually steak and kidney it can be pretty basic. If you’re a newbie to kidney then maybe you want to check this recipe out instead of something more "English pub style."

Kidneys are inexpensive. Beef kidneys are also very good for you. They are high in protein and provide several important vitamins and essential minerals.

I’m not going to blather on at great length. There’s three recipes here today: the steak and kidney filling, a fantastic flaky pastry (kind of made like puff pastry), and a sweated cabbage and carrot side dish.

So, enough words, on to the food!!

Steak & Kidney Turnovers
Prep filling: 2 hours  |  Making turnovers: 20 min  |  Bake: 40 min  |  Yield: 6
1 recipe pastry (see recipe below)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
250 g mushrooms, quartered
1 rib celery, diced
1 med carrot, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tomatoes, quartered
1 lb beef steak, cubed
3/4 lb kidney, cleaned and cubed*
8 allspice berries
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp thyme
2 cups beef stock
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp flour 

This filling should be made at least a few hours ahead.

This pastry is made partly like puff pastry.
After chilling, the dough is done two "turns."
Heat the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a lid. Add the onions, mushrooms, celery, carrot and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes.

Then add the tomatoes, steak, kidney, allspice, bay leaves, thyme, beef stock and some salt and pepper.

Cover, slightly ajar, and simmer for about 1-3/4 hours or until the liquid is almost all gone and what is left is thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Then sprinkle the flour on top and stir again.

Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust if necessary. Let cool before using.

* To clean the kidney simply start to cut off small mushroom sized pieces of meat. Inside you will see a white “core”. Do not use this. part of the kidney, or any visible fat.

Two "turns" is rolling the dough out, folding in thirds (top
pic) and then folded into thirds again, like this photo.
The process begins to make all those beautiful thin layers.
Four more "turns" and I would have puff pastry, supposedly.
Flaky Pastry
Prep: 15 min  |  Chilling: 1 hour
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup salted butter, 1/2” cubes
1/4 cup cold water
2-1/2 tbsp white vinegar

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the cubed butter and toss well. Then, with your hands, flatten the cubes of butter until all have been done.

Mix the vinegar and water together and add to the butter/flour. Mix until it just forms a rough dough. Flatten into a rectangle, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

At the end of 1/2 hour, on a floured board roll out the dough to a rectangle about 18” x 12”. Fold in thirds, and then thirds again to make a 6x4 block of dough. Wrap and refrigerate again, at least for 1/2 hour.

Cut the dough into six 6" x6" squares, fill and bake.
To Make Turnovers
Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Roll the dough out to 18” x 12” again. Use some flour to ensure the dough doesn’t stick. Trim the dough into six 6”-square pieces.

Wet the outer perimeter of a piece of dough. Mound some filling in the centre. Fold the dough over itself to make a triangle. Firmly pinch the edges together to seal. Place on a baking sheet and pierce three vent holes in the pastry.

Repeat with the remaining five squares.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and some “gravy” is bubbling through the vent holes.

This was a nice accompaniment. A little sour
and a little sweet.
Sweet Sweated Cabbage
Prep: 5 min  |  Cook: 15 min  |  Serves 6
1 tbsp oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 med onion, sliced
1/4 med cabbage, shredded
1 med carrot, julienned
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp cider vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a pan. 

Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes, until the cabbage is partly wilted.

Serve while hot.


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