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In a large casserole dish heat the butter or dripping and cook the beef and kidney for 4-5 minutes, in batches until brown on all sides. Add the onions and mushrooms (if used) and cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle over the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the stout or brown ale, stock, Worcestershire or brown sauce and bouquet garni. Season. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cover and cook for 1-1½ hours until the meat is tender. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes and remove the bouquet garni.
Meanwhile, prepare the pastry: In a large bowl sift together the flour and baking powder. Season. Add the suet and parsley and mix into the flour. When evenly blended add enough water to bind to a soft, pliable dough. Cover and leave to rest for about 20 minutes.
Grease a 1.3L (3pint) pudding basin with the butter. Take a quarter of the pastry for the lid and set aside. Roll out the remaining pastry and line the pudding basin, leaving at least 1cm (½inch) of the pastry hanging over the edge of the basin.
Spoon the cooled meat filling into the basin and brush the edges of the pastry with water, then roll out the remaining pastry to cover the top. Place on top of the basin and press down well to seal.
Cover the basin with a double layer of greased foil or greaseproof paper, pleated in the middle (the pleats will allow the pudding to expand during cooking) and tie with string, making a little handle with extra string at each side, so you can lift the pudding out of the saucepan or steamer.
Steam the pudding on an upturned, heatproof plate or saucer in a large covered saucepan filled with hot water or a steamer for 2 hours, checking the water level regularly.
Remove the string and foil or paper. Serve the pudding either by spooning portions from the pudding basin or turn out whole onto a plate and serve with creamy mashed potatoes and peas (see tip). Tip:To save time prepare the meat filling the day before and store in the refrigerator.
To make a truly traditional steak and kidney pudding, buy fresh suet .
If doing so, wait 20 minutes before turning the pudding out of its basin.
50g (2oz) butter or beef dripping
900g (2lb) lean chuck or rump steak, trimmed and cut into 2.5cm (1inch) cubes
225-350g (8-12oz) ox kidney, trimmed and cut into 2.5cm (1inch) cubes
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
350g (12oz) flat cap or Portobello mushrooms, halved and sliced (optional)
25g (1oz) plain flour
300ml (½pint) stout or brown ale
300ml (½pint) hot, good beef stock, home made, if preferred
30ml (2tbsp) Worcestershire or brown sauce
1 sachet bouquet garni
Salt and pepper
For the suet pastry:
350g (12oz) self-raising flour
5ml (1tsp) baking powder
175g (6oz) shredded beef suet
30ml (2tbsp) freshly chopped parsley
300ml (½pint) ice-cold water, to mix
25g (1oz) butter