Steak and Kidney Cottage Pie
This ultimate winter warmer is packed with tender meat, distinctive kidney flavour, umami mushrooms and silky soft onions all snugly housed under a buttery and crusty mash topping.
1 kg chuck steak, cubed
canola oil for frying
400 g lamb kidney, cleaned and cubed
canola oil, for frying
a splash of oil for frying
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp (15 ml) tomato paste
¼ C (35 g) flour
440 ml stout beer
1 C (250 ml) good quality beef stock
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh thyme, chopped
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh sage, chopped
12 baby onions, peeled
250 g portabellini mushrooms, sliced
¼ C (60 ml) Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp cornflour + 100 ml water, combined (if needed)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 kg potatoes, peeled and quartered
½ C (125 ml) full cream milk, warmed
2 egg yolks
salt and white pepper
Season the steak cubes with salt and pepper. In a large cast iron pan over a high heat add enough canola oil to cover the base. Heat until the oil barely begins to smoke then sear the cubes off to create a caramelised crust. Do this in batches if you need to and avoid overcrowding the pan. This step is essential for building a tasty crust. Remove the meat from the pan.
Slice the kidneys in half to reveal the hard white core. Using a pair of kitchen scissors carefully snip out the hard core and any remaining bits. Dice the kidneys and season with salt and pepper. Add a little oil to the same pan used to sear the steak pieces, heat and fry the kidneys 1-2 minutes then set aside on a separate dish to the steak. At this point you can deglaze the pan with a little water and keep the liquid to add to your pot.
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat a splash of oil and the butter and fry off your onions until they begin to turn golden. Add the garlic and tomato paste then stir fry for 1 minute. Add the flour and continue frying for another minute to cook out the flour taste. Add the stout, bring to a boil and reduce to half the liquid. Add the thyme, sage, steak and any meat juices, the deglazed pan liquid and stock to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook slowly for 1 hour with the lid on. After 1 hour remove the lid and continue cooking.
While the pot cooks it’s time to make the mash. Half fill a large saucepan with salted water. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer until the potatoes are completely cooked. Drain in a colander and let them stand for at least 1 minute to steam. Add the potatoes back to the saucepan and return the saucepan to the heat. Coarsely mash the potatoes on the heat and steam out any remaining moisture. Do this for about half a minute. Remove from the heat and add the butter and half of the warm milk. Mash until you have a smooth consistency adding milk if needed. You want a smooth and creamy mash that is not too wet. When you are happy with the consistency, add the egg yolks and mix well to combine. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
The Pot continued…
At the hour and a half mark, add the mushrooms, onions, kidneys and Worcestershire sauce to the pot and cook for another half hour. If your gravy is still a little runny then add the cornflour and water mixture. Take a tablespoon of the gravy, stir it into the cornflour to temper it then add the mix to the pot. This will thicken up the gravy. Season the pot with salt and pepper to finish.
Spoon the stew mix into a large cast iron pan or casserole dish. Be sure to leave a lip that the mash can settle into. Also, rather add less gravy then you think you need as the mash will displace some of the liquid when you spoon it on top of the stew mix. Spoon the mash in chunks onto the stew. Use the back of a fork to gently work the mash down until you’ve sealed the top. Use the fork to create a pattern of your choosing. Grill on the middle rack of the oven until the mash turns golden brown.