Once upon a time people ate such things as Tripe and Onions, Corned Beef Hash, Cornish Pasties, Shepherds Pie, Steak and Kidney Pie or Pudding or even Poor Mans Scouse.
Most of these have gone out of fashion, especially Tripe and Onions. When I was at college in Manchester, there were butchers that specialised in Offal, Tripe, Lights, Liver, Kidneys, Brains, Heart,Tongue, Trotters, Intestines, Chitterlings, Prairie Oysters ( testicles) and Sweetbreads.
The reason being was two fold, firstly manual labour, both for men and women, the man, work usually meant 10 hours of hard manual labour and for women, laundry, scrubbing floors etc and secondly these meals were cheap and provided the calories needed just for day to day living.
Tripe is very popular in Normandy where it is served Á la mode de Caen, and it can be bought ready made either from a traiteur or even in jars. Throughout Europe there seems to be various recipes for tripe, but I’m not about to give it another try ( I had to make it whilst at college and have to say I was not impressed.)
There is a restaurant in London, St. John’s , which specialises in Offal, worth a visit if that is what you like, and they also have an excellent recipe book, ( NOSE TO TAIL EATING). Another book that deals with the whole pig is PIG AND SONS, a kind of family history along with recipes.
Thinking of how it used to be, farmers would use every single bit of the animal that they had slaughtered, hence we have sausages, all sorts of cured meats, they had to be innovative in how they fed themselves throughout the lean times. And here in the mountains, it is not uncommon to see smoke coming out of a tiny wooden hut, they are smoking, something and it is usually pork.
In the western world we have our supermarkets and for most of us we no longer have to worry about where our next meal is coming from, which probably accounts for the decline in traditional meals.
However, Himself hankers after such foods! Memories of his childhood, maybe but he has been asking for Steak and Kidney pudding for a Long Time! Not something I would ever choose to eat, however, was more than willing to make it, if I could gather together the necessary ingredients !
Somehow or other I had in the cupboard some suet. Suet is an absolutely essential for Steak and Kidney pudding . It is also an essential if making a Jam Roly Poly, who makes puds like these, these days ( although I did read somewhere that Liz Hurley LOVES Jam Roly Poly, though with that figure, unlikely). Otherwise, Steak, not a problem and Beef Kidney. This proved a little more problematic, but nothing other than a trip down the mountain, couldn’t solve,where we found a traditional butchers and yes Kidneys!
A traditional recipe calls for steak, onions, kidneys to be thrown inside the pastry case,(in a pudding bowl) then the top wrapped in grease proof paper, followed by tying around a clean tea towel, standing the bowl in a saucepan filled with boiling water up to the neck of the basin and boiling this for several hours, ( read 5-6) topping up the water as needed .
Most recipes call for several hours of steaming, but this was in the days, before pressure cookers ( what are those?) and microwave ovens. Nowadays, the puddings can be cooked in a microwave oven in about 8-12 minutes, depending on the power of the oven.
This seemed very long winded to me and so, I used ribeye steak (300grms) cut into chunks, fat removed, along with 2 chopped onions , a handful of mushrooms sliced and 125 grams of kidney, sinews and fat removed and cut into chunks.
Sauté the onions in some olive oil until translucent add the meat and mushrooms, add about a glass of red wine, some Dijon mustard, some Worcestershire sauce, all to taste and let it simmer until the meat is really tender, add some salt and pepper to taste. If it begins to dry out add some more wine so that you get a nice thick gravy. I usually add some red currant jelly as well to my sauces, a tablespoon makes all the difference.
The GO TO company in the UK is Fray Bentos, which has been around always under the same name but has had various owners since1881 and named after a port in Uruguay, where the beef came from.
Suet pastry is a cinch to make.
All you need is
- 8 oz (225 grams) plain flour
- 4 oz (112 grams) suet, beef or even vegetarian suet
- 1tsp baking powder
- Water to mix