What is better than pastry, savory gravy and beef together with winter vegetables? I put herbs and spices in my pastry crust when making a meat pie or pasty. This addition really makes for a tasty savory crust.
The old world classic “Steak & Kidney Pie” popped into my head one day when making a pot pie for dinner. An instant later, so did my very unpleasant experience with Raw Buffalo kidney, of which turned me off to eating kidney (possibly for life). In 2018, I was helping Sidney Fitzpatrick, the Commissioner of Big Horn County with the annual Feast he and his wife Janet puts on during the Big Horn Native American Crow Fair.
This annual Pow Wow event draws up to 50,000 participants and spectators from all over the United States and internationally to the largest Pow Wow in the US. It was the 100th year for this annual event taking place the third weekend in August near Hardin Montana along the Little Big Horn River. The event is less than a mile from the site where Major Armstrong Custer foolishly split his troops and went up against approximately 11,000 Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. The Crows were a nomad peace-loving tribe during the Indian wars, and did not participate in the “Battle of the Little Big Horn” on June 25, 1876.
The scene today, as one looks down from the hill above the little Big Horn River may be as astonishing as the view Custer had on the day he died, yet today not in any way threatening. During the Crow Fair, Native Americans set up fifteen to eighteen hundred Tee Pees surrounding a large Arbor where differing customs of every tribal nation are recognized and celebrated. “It takes a Village” really does apply to Native Americans, where immediate and extended families are known as “Clans”. Sidney and his wife speak the Crow language to each other and work to keep their language and customs alive. A respected elder of the Crow tribe, Sidney (Chipper) Fitzpatrick’s Sir name came from his Irish Great Grandfather, who fell in love with a Crow woman and married into the Crow tribe in the late 1800’s.
I have helped with the commissioner’s annual Crow Fair feast for the past six years and have gotten to know my Native American friends well. They have welcomed me each year as family, and in 2017; I was adopted into the Fitzpatrick Clan, and given a Crow name
The annual feast is elaborate with meat, fish, and shrimp cooked on grills under the Fitzpatrick Clan’s personal Arbor. Sidney’s wife Janet works hard wrapping corn on the cob for grilling, along with many other wonderful side dishes. Family members and friends bring deserts of all kinds.
My raw kidney experience happened during the 2018 feast. I was preparing raw Buffalo kidneys for grilling with my seasonings. A young Crow woman came up to me and asked for a slice of raw kidney. She told me Crow braves would eat raw liver, heart, and kidney dirrectly out of wild game after a successful hunt; and that she liked Kidney better raw than cooked. I thought “okay, I will give it a try”. I was unaware that the Buffalo kidneys had been previously frozen and thawed. Perfectly safe to eat after cooking, yet because they were not fresh out of the beast, as I found out the hard way, not a good idea to consume raw. I ended up very sick during the night, and for two days to follow.
Kidney, cooked or raw, will probably never again cross my lips. However, the experience did give me the name for my Old European inspired “fractured classic” recipe: Buffalo Steak and “You Have to be Kidding Me Pie”.
Buffalo Steak and “You have got to be Kidding Me” Pie
2 -pounds cubed Buffalo Steak
4- Tablespoons light olive oil
1-cup chopped onions
1-cup diced white potato or parsnips
2-cups mushrooms cut in thick slices or quarters
3-cups Beef stock
Salt & pepper to taste (end of cooking)
3- Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-Tablespoon tomato paste
2 -Tablespoons Worcestershire
1- recipe Sundress Chef ™ Savory pie crust
1- Egg (beaten for pastry top)
3 -Tablespoons butter (unsalted)
Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to a medium sized fry pan. Add Buffalo meat, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Fry until well browned. Remove the meat into a bowl. To the fry pan, add the remaining olive oil. Add the onions, carrots and potato. Sauté over medium high heat just long enough to soften meat drippings. Add veggies to the bowl with the Buffalo meat. Add the 3 Tablespoons of butter to the pan and 3 Tablespoons of flour to make a roux. Stir until lightly browned. Add beef stock, tomato paste, bay leaf and mushrooms. Add the bowl of carrots, onion, potato, and beef. Bring to a simmer. If ingredients are not completely covered with stock, add enough water to cover. Add the Bay leaf, and cover frying pan with a vented lid. Simmer for approximately one hour. Simmer uncovered a little longer if not thick enough. If too thick, add a little water while cooking. Taste for seasoning. Add Worcestershire and salt and pepper to taste. Take off the heat, and allow to cool down before spooning into crust. Any left-over filling may be eaten as stew.
Sundress Chef ™ Savory Pie Crust
2 ½-Cups All-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Sundress Chef Salsa Seasoning
2-sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (frozen)
6-Tablespoons ice cold Tequila
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
In a medium size bowl, combine flour, salsa seasoning, and sugar. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients, and course-grate in the frozen butter. With a pastry blender, or food processor, incorporate butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Make a well in the mixture again and sprinkle the 6 tablespoons of water evenly. Toss with your fingers or pastry blender. Do not over work, as this will cause gluten to form, making your crust tough. The dough should not be sticky. If sticky, work in a little more flour. Form into a flattened ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes along with the rolling pin and rolling surface (if possible). Divide dough in two. Roll dough out to fit a 12 inch pie dish. Spray non-stick spray onto the sides and bottom of pie dish. Fit in bottom crust. Spoon cooled filling into crust. Roll out the second portion of dough. Trim to one inch over the sides of dish. Flute crust. Cut several small steam vents in pastry. Brush with egg wash. Bake until bottom and top crust is golden brown. Approximately 45 minutes. Allow to cool fifteen minutes before cutting.