Tuesday, January 3, 2012

new year, new disaster (or, steak and kidney pie)

I'll confess: I kind of have a thing for Britain.

Pubs, pints, high tea, scones, royals, BBC period dramas (anyone watching Downton Abbey this Sunday?), Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, the British Invasion, Tea & Sympathy...the list goes on. My sister and I have a whole separate mode of communication involving quotations from our favorite pieces of British media.

this lovely pub is actually in San Francisco, but, you know

So I naturally thought that something as British as, say, steak and kidney pie would of course be delicious.

Then I met the beef kidney.

It smelled...shall we say...like what the streets of New York smell like in the morning. Where homeless men have peed.

I think that's when I should have chucked the whole plan out the window.

But I was feeling stubborn, and slightly foolhardy, so I went ahead and made the pie. Essentially, you wash the kidney in cold salted water, then chop it up and dredge the pieces in flour. Then do the same for a piece of steak (much nicer), and saute the meat with some onions until brown. Simmer in water for an hour, thicken the sauce with flour, and pour into a pie dish. Cover with a pie crust and bake until the crust is brown and the sauce bubbly. And your apartment smells like a slightly nicer version of what I mentioned above.

However, the pie did look appetizing. So I cut myself a small slice and tentatively tried a bite.

I couldn't even swallow it.

This was an unmitigated disaster, my friends. Being British does not automatically make a pie delicious. I did look up a steak and kidney pie recipe in the Joy of Cooking afterwards. There I learned that beef kidneys should be soaked in cold salted water for at least 2 hours before cooking to wash away most of the "strong flavor," which may have been where my recipe went awry. Maybe the 18th-century Virginians didn't care so much about "strong flavor"?

It's not a promising way to start off the new year, but it is an interesting one. And let us say no more about that.

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