Monday, April 26, 2010

Daring Baker Challenge, April 2010, British Suet Pudding; Steak & Kidney

(about 6-8 servings)

This month's challenge was hosted by Esther from The Lilac Kitchen.  She proposed making steamed puddings using suet, and we had the choice of sweet or savory, using one of two methods.

Initially I thought a lot about making a traditional plum pudding, and then toyed with the idea of making something with ginger, pear and caramel. In the end I made a steak and kidney pudding with mushrooms, pearl onions and red wine.

I ended up cheating. Although I boiled my pudding for 5 1/2 hours, the crust refused to turn brown, so I popped it in the oven and left it there for about 20 minutes until I liked the colour.

Dallas in many respects can be lovely, but when it comes to finding certain items, I begin to realise just how pedestrian a place this can be.  Kidneys? OMG! What a fiasco!

I called two Whole Foods markets and neither had any; the second fellow I spoke with, asked me incredulously "kidney beans or kidneys? I called a butcher who had been given the "Dallas Butcher of the Year" award a couple of years back and he told me these days, that kind of stuff generally got packed up and shipped to pet food manufacturers. I called at least a dozen places before hitting the jackpot at Central Market.  I had to special order them, and three whole days later, they did not arrive. /cry

Then I remembered Kuby's, the German meat market and deli, and gave them a call. They had veal kidneys! I was way too excited over these kidneys, but heh, this is Dallas.

We were given a few basic recipes which I used as a guide, ending up with the following, once I was done:

Suet Pastry
3 1/2 cups of unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cups suet
3/4 -1 1/4 cup water

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the suet and mix gently with your hands.

Add 3/4 cup water and stir. Keep adding the water in small amounts until the dough forms into a ball. Knead a few times and then cover and set aside.

Steak and Kidney Filling
1/2 lb beef, veal or lamb kidneys, (anything you can get your hands on!)
2 cups water
1 tbsp vinegar

1 1/2 lb beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2" cubes
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried thyme
small handful fresh parsley, chopped
salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pearl onions, peeled
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 cup beef broth
1 cup red wine

Remove the membranes from the kidneys and then slice them lengthwise and remove the fatty cores. Place them in the water and vinegar for about an hour. Remove, pat dry and cut into small cubes.

Place the kidneys, beef, onions and mushrooms into a bowl. Sprinkle the flour, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper over the meat and toss to mix.

Remove about 1/4 of the suet pastry and reserve that for the top crust. Roll out the remaining dough and line a well buttered 1 1/2 quart  pudding basin or deep casserole. Leave about an inch of pastry hanging over the edge.

Add the meat and vegetable filling.

Combine the beef broth and wine and pour that over the meat.

Roll out the remaining piece of dough and place over the top. Turn up the overlapping pieces of dough and seal to prevent the gravy from escaping while the pudding is steaming.

Top with a piece of foil or parchment paper. Tie it down with string.

Place the pudding into a *large pot and add enough boiling water to come up about 2/3 of the way up the pudding basin. Cover and boil for about 5-6 hours, checking every hour so to see if you need to top up the water.

*The pudding basin itself shouldn't touch the bottom of the pot. You can place it on top of an inverted plate or a scrunched up piece of foil, or something that can withstand the boiling water.

The pudding will be done when the suet pastry has turned a light golden brown. From what I've read, it's almost impossible to overcook a pudding**.

**I left mine to boil for 5 1/2 hours, after which time the pastry wasn't changing colour, so I popped it into the oven for 20 minutes at 375°F.

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