If it’s Wednesday, then steak and kidney pudding is on the menu in the Secret Service canteen. In The Man with the Golden Gun (1965), this is the information that James Bond, brainwashed by the KGB and bent on murder following the events of You Only Live Twice (1964), offers Captain Walker of the Liaison Section to convince him of his identity. While we have no evidence that Bond ever eats steak and kidney pudding, he would have been familiar with the dish from childhood. This is a school-dinner classic and was, certainly at the time Ian Fleming was writing, a fixture on the menus of top London restaurants and gentlemen’s clubs.
Serves two to three
For the pastry
- 170g plain or self-raising flour (plus 2 level tsp baking powder if using plain)
- 85g shredded suet
- Pinch of salt
- Cold water (3-5 tbsp)
For the filling
- 400g stewing beef, diced
- 120g ox kidney, coarsely chopped
- Plain flour
- Salt and black pepper
You will also need
- Pudding basin
- Butter for greasing
- Greaseproof paper
To make the pastry, put the flour (ideally sieved), suet, salt and baking powder (if using) into a mixing bowl. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time , and mix the ingredients together to form a dough (you may not need all the water). Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead it until it is smooth. Put the dough to one side.
In another bowl, combine the beef and kidney and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon or two of flour and mix until the meat is thoroughly coated. Grease the inside surface of a pudding basin with butter (this recipe is ideal for a basin of 1-1¼ litres).
Remove about a third of the dough. This will be used to form the lid. On the floured surface, roll out the larger portion of pastry thinly and to a sufficient size to line the pudding basin. Line the basin with the pastry, allowing the pastry to overhang the top of the basin a little. Fill the basin with the steak and kidney. (A tablespoon of stock, water or red wine can be added, but I find that the meat provides sufficient liquid.) Roll out the remaining pastry to form a lid and cover the top of the basin. Press the edges of the pastry to seal and remove any excess.
Loosely cover the top of the basin with a generous piece of greaseproof paper. Fix the paper around the basin with string. Place the basin in a large saucepan. Fill the saucepan with boiling water so that the water reaches halfway up the basin. Cover the saucepan with a lid and place the saucepan on the hob. Bring the water to a gentle simmer and allow the pudding to steam for about 3½ hours. Top up the water if necessary. Traditionally, the pudding, once cooked, is served from the basin and not turned out.