Monday, September 09, 2019

mission: steak-and-kidney pie

An English friend is coming for a visit on September 21, the weekend after Chuseok, and I've proposed making steak-and-kidney pie, which I love. Of course, I say "I love" as if I were some sort of expert, but in truth, I've had the pie only once, and it was a marvelous experience. I've since learned that the traditional version involves cubed chunks of muscle and organ meat; the version I ate featured thinly sliced beef and kidney. I'm a lazy bastard when I eat, so I naturally prefer thinly sliced meat, and that's likely how I'm going to prepare the pie once I find the ingredients. I'm not worried about finding beef; chuck is usually recommended and easily available in regular Korean groceries, but I might actually go for brisket because, once cooked to tenderness, brisket becomes the One Meat to Rule Them All. Finding kidney might be a problem; luckily, I see that the English are open-minded on the question of which animal's kidneys should go into the pie: a cook has his choice of cow, pig, or lamb. That makes it more likely that I'll find some sort of kidney somewhere.

The various recipes for pie crust for steak-and-kidney pie are all in the same ballpark as the crust I've used for chicken pot pie, so that's not an issue. Neither is creating a brown sauce for the meat; I know several methods for arriving at something palatable. The important thing I've learned is that the kidneys need to be prepped and soaked in water for two hours, or they need to be lightly boiled for several minutes to get rid of a bitter taste that can arise when raw kidneys are suddenly cooked. The water for soaking/boiling needs to have some salt and vinegar in it (some chefs go the opposite way and recommend soaking in milk). Kidneys also have an outer membrane that must be removed, as well as a fatty core that needs to be excised. They're apparently very high in cholesterol, but if you're a disciple of Gary Taubes, then this may not be as big of a problem for you.

Beef kidneys are highly lobed organs. Pig kidneys look, well, more human. Lamb kidneys are more sharply curled inward than pig kidneys. Whichever kidneys I end up with, I can guarantee that surgery is going to be fun. Wish me luck on my hunt for kidneys.


John Mac said...

Who knew kidneys could be such a pain in the ass?

Good luck!

Kevin Kim said...

Many thanks. The hunt goes on. I may end up having to go back to that meat market where I got the brisket last time.