A few Octobers ago, we went to Scotland, and I think that trip changed H’s life forever. Before that trip, she had no particular affinity for the country, aside from knowing it was where J. K. Rowling lives and wrote the books that H adored, devoured, memorized, and essentially dwelt in for several years of her younger childhood.
But now. Oh now.
Scotland is her dream country. Edinburgh is her dream city. And don’t be surprised if you get a postcard in the next five years saying the three of us, the dog, cats, and goats have moved to the highlands for a spell.
Which I hope makes it clear why, when the My Kitchen My World group choose Great Britain as September’s destination, H immediately handed me a Scottish cookbook.
After flipping through the book, then giving it some thought, I settled on making steak pie, a tradition for Hogmany, the Scottish New Year celebration. I chose this dish for many reasons, not least of which is a delicious memory of the four of us (including my sister, L), sitting in a pub after a chilly, rainy morning of touring Stirling castle, and being served up huge, steamy steak pies, topped with tall puff pastry lids, and served with not one but two forms of potato.
It’s one of those really good memories I don’t want to ever lose. The four of us together, warm, laughing, on an adventure. And pints of really terrific beer.
I decided to make this dish on the last day of September, in celebration of M’s birthday. A personal Hogmany, you might say.
The filling itself takes little effort, just time and a warm oven. It involves the usual suspects of sauteed onions, and steak chunks dredged in seasoned flour and then browned. Then you add beef stock, a nice mound of freshly ground pepper, and put it all in the oven to slowly cook for three hours, stirring it occasionally and checking the stock level to make sure it hasn’t all evaporated.
That’s really it. The traditional recipe also calls for a tiny bit of beef sausage, but I couldn’t find any on the day I went looking. (Note: To make the filling, I essentially followed this recipe, but replaced the sausage allotment with more steak, and used two cups of beef stock in place of the beef stock cube.)
When the filling came out of the oven, the meat was falling-apart tender and the flour, stock, onions, and pepper had coalesced into a rick, dark, thick gravy.
The topping is a puff pastry. You can use any puff pastry you like, including frozen store-bought, which puffs up gorgeously and is always ready to go. Since I had the time, I decided to try making Gesine’s Quick Puff recipe.
I won’t share all my pictures of making the puff, but let me summarize by showing you two and telling you that it starts out as a big ol’ mess of butter, flour and water and you think it’ll never be anything you can be proud of, and then a few rolls, turns, and folds later, you get something gorgeous.
You can make the filling a day or two ahead of time, then, when you’re ready to go, just put the filling in an oven-safe dish, top it with the pastry, brush with milk, and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is puffed and golden and the filling is bubbling merrily away.
We served it with sauteed leeks. And roasted brussels sprouts, and Scottish ale. Why I didn’t think to accompany it with a wee dram of whiskey, I’ll never know.
To see the round up of the group’s British recipes, visit the My Kitchen My World (MKMW) site. (You can also see where the group has already traveled.) To join in, just make a dish (or more) for the month’s country, blog about it, and put a link to your post in the comments on the MKMW page.