Apr 29, 2011

How to cook like me...the royal wedding edition.

I've got to be honest here...I actually made this dish a few of weeks back and was saving it to post soon but realized that today, with William's and Kate's wedding, would be a very appropriate time.  So, the whole idea stems back from a conversation I had awhile back with a very British elderly neighbor who loves food but doesn't cook much and was reminiscing about his favorite comfort food as a youngster.  I sort of made a mental note that I'd love to make his favorite dish for him sometime.  Cut to a few weeks ago and I'm at Winn-Dixie and spot a key ingredient.  I grabbed it.  The fact that I was vaguely disgusted tipped me off that this was going to be fun!  I ran home with my special ingredient, praying I had everything else I needed.  I did, I did!  So, in this edition of "How to cook like me", we're going to make...

 steak and...
...kidney pie! Yep, I found kidneys.  Now, I've never eaten kidneys and I grew up hearing horror stories from Miss Arse about how her dad loved kidneys and it would make the whole house smell like rancid urine when her mother cooked them, so let me admit right now that I was wary.  But intrigued. Very intrigued.

I assembled the ingredients I thought I'd need...meats, 'taters, puff pastry, mushrooms, onion.

And seasonings, also deciding to go with baby bello 'shrooms instead of regular ones at the last minute. 

I thawed and pounded the hell out of my weird cuts of sirloin.  Hey, they came out of a multi-packaged family pack. We can't expect much here, okay?

After removing 3 layers of plastic wrap on the kidneys, I was down to the final layer of plastic wrap and becoming a tad more disturbed by what I saw.  What I thought were many small, individual kidneys were now beginning to look like, um, one big one.  From what could only be a Zord sheep.  Ugh, I prayed this wasn't true.  I also decided this was a good time to actually look for recipes, lol, instead of relying on what an old man told me from 50 years ago.  It seems I was pretty set on ingredients, a game plan and I was also told to "trim" the kidneys of tough tissue.  Uh-oh. 

I dumped it out on my cutting sheet and immediately discover why it was encased in 4 layers of plastic wrap.  No one wants to go in Winn-Dixie and be reminded of John Wayne Gacy.

I also confirmed that I was actually the proud owner of one, and only one, kidney and said kidney had...pods...on it.  *gags* At this point, I really wondered if I can do this.  For whatever reason, I could do the tongue, the cheek and heck, I've cooked brains but this kidney might be my undoing.  

Flipping it over did not help.  Not only did it have gristly, waxy thing in the middle, it had a *insert squeaky voice* duct hole.  A. Duct. Hole.  For what could have only been urine.  But hell, I'm not about to let organ meat stop me, so I grabbed it and washed it good in cold water and ran water into the *shudder* duct hole. While I'm at it, I copped a good feel of the whole thing, trying to find out about this "tough tissue" thing.  I felt tough tissue in every fucking pod and it all grew out of this weird, waxy white thing.  God *damn.

While the water was running, Beatrice decided she'd like a sippie and it was a much welcome break for us both.  Ignore my water bottles in the background, I'd just emptied my trunk.

With a new enthusiasm, I began cutting the pods off the kidney.  This was the best I could do and I did a little scraping, at that.  I did smell it and it smelled a lot like normal ol' liver, but with an odd, faintly sweeter smell. The smell actually reassured me that this could be okay...

...until I spotted the Duct Hole. Again. I poured myself a glass of wine, tossed it (not the wine, no point in *that) in the sink and pretended I never saw it. I took all of my kidney pods and dredged them in seasoned flour, then proceeded to brown them up good. 

See?  This is looking better, isn't it?  And it smells like liver, so once again, I felt reassured.  I wasn't picking up on any of the nasty urine smell my mom remembered but am figuring that since they killed their own sheep, maybe they just didn't rinse those Duct Holes (forever capitalized in my head) well.  *gags again*  But still, I'm game and not about to be defeated, not even when I spot what the lid says on the bottle of oil I pulled out of the cabinet to fry the kidney pods in.

Uh-oh.  And oops. Well, I'd not used it for anything but okra and onion rings, so hey, added flavor, right?  I thought so, too.  Journey on! I decided to scrub the sink and counters of all the blood and ook that has splattered while my pods browned up some.

As I go to clean the sink out, I see this.  Duct Hole, she mocks me.

At this point, I had some slight problems occur.  My main kitchen light burned out and I had no replacement bulb, so I was stuck with this one light over my sink to cook by.  It was getting dark out and frankly, I'd lose a lot of enthusiasm for this project. I decided to quickly brown the now-cubed and floured steak, deglaze, refrigerate the whole deal and start again tomorrow.

They say you should always cook with a good quality wine, something you'd drink.  I agree and deglazed with this.  :-D

Oh, look.  Yummy.  *eyeroll*  Into the fridge it went, once I made room.  Oh, hey, want to see in my fridge pre-room being made?
I'm the nosy sort and love seeing in people's fridges and cabinets.  Closets, too.  Yep, it's an old one...18 years old, I do believe.  Hey, it works, so why change?  Can you find my bacon grease, my leftover shit-on-a-shingle, my multiple bottles of hot sauce and salsa? Oh, yum, salmon cream cheese...I need more of that.

I felt considerably more on my game the next day, especially since Duct Hole was safely out in the garbage can. I added all of my assorted ingredients, including water, sauteed onions, taters and mushrooms, carrots, chopped parsley, beef bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, bay leaves, herbs de Provence, additional lavender and, upon discovering I had no tomato paste and unwilling to make a trip out, a big squirt of ketchup. Because yes, I have lavender and no tomato paste...it's weird, but whatever.  I let all of this simmer for 2 hours and I must say, it smelled wonderful!

Once the bottom layer of puff pastry was baked for about 10 minutes, I dumped a lot of my mixture on it to hide where it swelled way up in the middle and then did a last taste test, in case additional seasonings are needed.  I got a piece of kidney on that one and I'll be damned, it wasn't bad. In fact, I liked it.

A covering of more puff pastry, an egg wash and into the oven it went 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.  I didn't really time it, I just pulled it out when it looked golden.

Here was the final product...since this was an experiment, I got a chunk, as did my mom, Jake and my British neighbor, who(m?) I encouraged to be honest.  He really liked it!  He said he could have done without the bottom crust at all (I liked that part but wish it has been less soggy) and said my top crust could have been puffier but that overall, it tasted like what he grew up with and hoped I made it again.  I did notice that while none of the recipes I found mentioned adding the 'taters, he stressed his mother did so I'm not sure how authentic the 'taters are to a true steak and kidney pie. Nonetheless, it was a far bigger success than I expected.  The kidneys tasted like a very mild liver, so Jake and I really enjoyed it and even Miss Arse found this to be tasty as long as she didn't think too much about it. The end verdict is that, despite my gagging and shuddering and despite the ominous presence of Duct Hole, I *will make this again.  I do think I may use calf liver next time, though, and just not tell anyone it's not kidney...no one will be the wiser. Trust me.

Who is going to make it next?  ;-)


Ami said...

AP - I always get a kick out of your cooking posts. You're much braver than I am, and I admit to getting grossed out once in a while (hello, Duct Hole!), but it's always fun to read! Glad you're back to blogging more, too. :)

lisa said...

oh my gosh, that was hilarious! I'm going to have nightmares about that mocking duct hole...

Jeanette said...

These are my favorite posts! I would never actually eat this stuff, but it sure is fun to read about it!

Lisa, aka AP said...

*waves to everyone*

It's so good to see Ami and Lisa again and hope all is well! It always tickles me when y'all like these cooking adventures - it makes them even more fun to do, so thank you for commenting and letting me know! :-)

KaytieJ said...

Your Royal Wedding Cooking edition is an adventure to read. Thank you for making the old recipes New.

Cheers to the Duct Hole!

Trudy said...

How bout you start baking! YUCK is all i can say.

Karen said...

I would not could not eat that after seeing that Duct Hole. *Gag*

But I love the way you write!! and I think its sweet you wanted to try making it for your elderly neighbor!!

Watch out, your sweet side is showing!!

Lisa, aka AP said...

Lol, thanks, Karen and yeah, I need to stifle that sweet side back in. Can't let my bitch reputation be ruined... ;-)

Trudy, I'm not a big baker, mostly because I'm not a big sweet eater, I guess, and can take or leave bread. Still, it might be fun, so let me see what I an come up with!

Jeanette said...

Didn't you go through a phase once where you were cooking everything into a pie? You could go that route again and blog about it... :)

Lisa, aka AP said...

Jeanette, I did, which is how this blog got its name. Hmmm...a pie for Trudy, maybe?