Filling The Old Pie-Hole

One of my childhood comfort foods was the venerable (to Brits) steak ‘n kidney pie (my Murkin Readers can pause here for regurgitation purposes). Basically no larger than a fistful, it’s as advertised: pieces of steak and kidney smothered in gravy, all encapsulated in flaky pastry. As a starving boarding school pupil, it saved me from death on many an occasion when purchased from the school “tuck” shop during First Break (recess).

Most takeout places in Britishland serve these things hot, and they are pretty much a staple snack dish, along with chicken pies, pork pies, Cornish pasties (too much veg., not enough meat) and variants such as steak ‘n potato and steak ‘n onion.

However, if you’re looking for something to eat at home, i.e. something that can be bought at a supermarket, then pickings are slim; for reasons which escape me, the supermarket pies are almost all dreadful regardless of store name — Tesco, Sainsbury and even Waitrose have nothing to brag about when it comes to pies.

I thought all was lost until only a few days ago, when I discovered this magnificent item in the fridge at Sainsbury, of all places:

(“Pukka” is a derivative of an Indian word which means “the real thing” — and is it ever.)

Pukka makes other pies, but I don’t know which or how many, because I only had eyes for this type. I bought one, and took it home without any high expectations — but oh joy, was I ever wrong!

Large pieces of tender meat (no gristle), lovely savory gravy and crispy pastry, warmed in the Aga for only a few minutes: if I’d bought half a dozen I’d have eaten them all in one sitting. The Cook at FM Towers also likes them, and tells me that their other offerings are likewise splendid, so there you have it.

This has been a Public Service Announcement from Kim, and will help anyone traveling to Britishland hereafter. No need to thank me, it’s all part of the service.


    1. I’ve encountered exactly one restaurant that serves steak and kidney, and it was a pub style in the Atlanta Omni. Of course, that was 30 years ago too.

      I thought they were wonderful then, and only wish I could find a place that serves them here in Dallas.

    1. Yes he was, G.

      And no doubt, once he’s done being corrupted by those damnable kippered Limey bastids, he’ll be gobbling spotted dick, and faggots n peas too…!!!


      When I was a kid my dad decided to cook up a favourite of his childhood: white navy beans and boiled cabbage. I knew I was in trouble just from the bloody smell. We got into the classic battle of fathers and sons: “Eat yer damned dinner” and “No I bloody well won’t!” I lost that battle and the emotional scars hurt to this day. I am strongly tempted to sue my father for hurt feelings and some reasonable financial compensation – all I need is a sleazy lawyer with no morals and self respect. Kim – are you still on speaking terms with Hillary Clinton? 😉

  1. I never quite got the S&K pie, and I’m heartily in the Brit comfort food camp. Anything with what can only be described as heroic amounts of eggs and bacon can only be a good thing.

    In the case of the meat pies, though… ur… why not just eat, you know, more steak? I can’t fathom why you’d displace any with kidney chunks and/or pastry. That’s like putting coke in one’s bourbon.

    1. > In the case of the meat pies, though… ur… why not just eat, you know, more steak?

      Money, mainly. Steak is expensive. But also you get the lovely sauce / gravy.

      BTW if you’re eating them from the chippy i.e. without cutlery, turn them upside down so the lid is on the bottom.

  2. I must admit a love of meat pies of all sort, and it is the perfect mid morning or mid afternoon snack.

  3. Up here in Canada, being 80-20 Brit-Frog we have a long tradition of steak’n kidney pie and also of Quebecois tourtiere, a similar thing.

    The online recipes for that will mostly show it as minced beef and pork, but really, it’s a dish of minced game and fatty pork.

    My wife, of Hungaro-Czech extraction, but a lover of all things British, also adds hot paprika paste and/or kidneys. Paprika and kidneys together are a bit much for me.

    I bag something most years and I’ll often get a midwinter pie with steak and kidneys plus deer, antelope, elk or moose. I eat them all with lashings of HP sauce. Yumm.

  4. Ah good. They have them in Oz as well. Meat pies everywhere, as well as in roadside c-stores.

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