How the Destruction of Pompeii Inspired Me To Write About Making A Steak and Kidney Pudding

Whilst sitting staring at the Boob Tube (as my father used to call it; well he might still call it that but seeing how he now has a 3D 50 inch Samsung LED job I suspect he doesn’t) I found myself watching a piece about the disaster that met the poor folks in Roman times in the foothills of Vesuvius. The mountain blew it’s load, so to speak, and many people died.

That took me back to my Geography degree (dead useful a geography degree in my current role as a corporate development ‘professional’ in a software company) and the time I studied the explosion of Mount St Helens.

Where the hell is this going? Oh yes, that infamous event reminded me of my latest creation – a ‘Steak and Kidney Pudding’. Why? Let’s take a look:


Here’s a steak and kidney pudding; note the collapsing outer wall, the innards spewing forth. And here’s a shot of Mount St Helens:


Note the similarities – the collapsed outer wall, the innards spewing forth….

Now it’s just possible I’m being slightly melodramatic here. I mean comparing a meat pie to one of the most catastrophic natural disasters of the 20th century. Seriously. Nevertheless baking, pies, meat – it’s not an easy combination to get right. And this is how it happened…

Steak and Kidney Pudding is a decadently rich pastry encrusted delight comprising steak, kidney, suet pastry…and not much else.


  • 2 lambs’ kidneys
  • 1lb braising steak
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • salt and pepper
  •  sunflower oil
  •  Glass of red wine
  •  Thyme
  •  Bay leaf
  •  Beef stock
  •  1 tbsp tomato purée

For the suet pastry

  • 12oz self-raising flour
  • 6¼ shredded suet
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • butter, for greasing

You will also need one big (or two small) pudding basins, string, greaseproof paper and silver foil.


First off make the pastry; combine the flour, suet, salt & pepper with some water. Roll out to about 1/2 cm thickness.


Cut out a circle of pastry big enough so that it will line the inside of your pudding basin(s). Grease the basins with butter. Press the pastry circle into the basin, making sure you remove any air bubbles..


Trim the pastry around the edge, leaving a small lip. Now add the chopped up beef and kidney…


Pour in some stock, wine. Add the tomato puree and herbs and ‘season well’…


Now wet the rim of the pastry. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut out lids. Place over the top of your meaty creation and trim your rim…


Now get a sheet of greaseproof paper and create a fold in it. Place over the top of the pudding…


Do the same with a sheet of foil…


Now secure the foil with string…


Put the puddings in pans (resting on upturned plates) and fill the pans with water to half way up the basins. Simmer for 3 hours (make sure the water doesn’t boil away)…


Meanwhile you can make some gravy if you fancy. Mine was heavily influenced by red wine…


After several hours of simmering the pudding will look like this…


Ready to blow…

Remove the coverings…


Ease the edges of the pudding away from the basin…


And tip out on to a plate…


It’s kind of holding together. But what happens if we cut into it…


As we saw earlier it starts trying to collapse!

But anyway if you let it cool down it looks a bit more solid…


However I like to serve my Steak and Kidney Pudding straight out the basin, with extra gravy, in a big gloopy mess!


Honestly it may look messier than a volcanic eruption but it tastes a lot better (I’m reliably informed by no one).

28 thoughts on “How the Destruction of Pompeii Inspired Me To Write About Making A Steak and Kidney Pudding

  1. My mother’s birthday is coming up and I had no idea what to make her. This recipe would be excellent to make. She loves steak and pot pies. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  2. That’s quite a process but it looks terrific. Of course I’ve heard of steak & kidney pie but even though I visited your lovely country many times I never tried this & I’m sorry now that I didn’t give it a shot (probably the kidney thing that kept me away). I wasn’t sure where you were going with the string but I guess you have to have some way to contain it.
    I visited Washington state a year after Mount St. Helens blew her lid & there was still ash in the air – sort of like a permanent cloud hanging over the entire state. I hope nothing like that happened in your kitchen but it looks like you had it all under control.

  3. Love the comparison! I have never tried steak and kidney pie – or kidney of any animal for that matter! Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian lol. That’s what I like about this little blogiverse, you get different ideas from all over the world 🙂

  4. Thank God for the wine! I can see why you have compared your creation to Mt St Helens and Vesuvius – it is the most complicated thing I have seen in recent food blogs. It looks great and delicious, but I can only remember one of my cooking mishaps years ago, trying to cook kidneys. I definitely need a lesson – even our cat refused to eat it. .

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