Meaty Girl: Steak & Kidney Pie

Blood, or "black" pudding -- that crusty, congealed animal blood dish so popular in England -- used to be on the menu at the George & Dragon, the Valley's celebrated British pub. The term "blood sausage" is British, referring to a sausage made by cooking blood with a filler (usually meat, fat, bread, or potatoes) until the blood becomes thick and coagulates as it cools. It's a typical part of a traditional breakfast in the U.K. and the basis for a variety of sausages throughout Europe.

But alas, the G&D doesn't have black pudding on its menu anymore. Like haggis, this is one ethnic meat dish that nobody in Phoenix seems to serve. So after perusing the "traditional fare" section of George & Dragon's menu, we went with the Steak & Kidney Pie.

George & Dragon's Steak & Kidney Pie
Another typical British dish, Steak & Kidney pie consists of diced beef steak and ox or lamb kidneys, baked in a thick sauce with a crusty pastry top. The George & Dragon makes their dish with lamb kidneys, and it looked delicious -- chunks of beef, marinated in Guinness, diced onions, and seasoned organ meat, oozing in a thick beef sauce and topped with a puff pastry lid. It came with fries ("chips" to Brits) and a choice of vegetable (peas, green beans, or mashed potatoes). It smelled like pot roast in a pastry, insinuating a hearty beef-n-gravy taste.

But something tasted strange. The beef was tender and chewy, but way too salty, and the puff pastry top was slightly doughy. The lamb kidneys were sinewy and easy to swallow, but left a strange chemical aftertaste that permeated the rest of the pie. Maybe it was the suet (mutton fat), essential for making the tallow for the pie crust (and also used to make bar soap), but the enzymatic bitterness dominated the beef, onions, gravy, and Guinness. The Steak & Kidney pie costs $10.95, and for the same price, the Fish & Chips dish is probably a better choice for traditional flavor. -- Niki D'Andrea

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