Dr. Johnson's Steak and Oyster Pudding

  • Active Time 25m
  • Total Time 3h 20m

Serves 6

This is a traditional English tavern dish that has been served for centuries and can still be found on pub menus today. Reputedly, it was a favorite of the famous eighteenth-century diarist and social commentator Dr. Samuel Johnson. Its heyday was probably in past centuries when oysters were commonplace rather than a luxury. If you like beef pies but dislike oysters, simply omit the seafood. WINE RECOMMENDATION: A lighter-style red will work here, such as California Merlot or comparable choice from St. Emilion (Bordeaux).


  • For Filling:
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 pounds top-round or chuck steak, choice grade, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup butter or olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped marjoram or oregano
  • For Pastry Crust:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup chilled shortening
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 8 freshly shucked small oysters
  • 1 egg, beaten


TO PREPARE FILLING: Place the flour in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef in the flour mixture. Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the beef and brown in 2 batches over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes. Remove the beef and set aside. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, while scraping the drippings from the bottom of the pan. Add the wine, stock, Worcestershire sauce, parsley and marjoram and gently mix together. Return the beef to the pan, season with salt and pepper, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

TO PREPARE CRUST: Meanwhile, place the flour, bread crumbs and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the shortening and pulse until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add the water and mix until the dough just comes together in clumps. Cut into 2 pieces; the first should be two-thirds of the total, with the second the remaining one-third. Chill for 30 minutes.

Roll out the larger piece of dough on a lightly floured work surface to form a circle with a thickness of about 1/8 inch; the circle should be large enough to fit in the bottom and up the sides of a lightly greased 1-quart baking dish. Press the pastry into the dish, pressing against the sides without stretching the pastry Trim the edge of the pastry about 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the dish and add the trimmings to the smaller piece of dough.

TO ASSEMBLE: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Transfer the beef mixture to the dish and add the oysters. Roll out the remaining piece of dough in a circle to fit the top of the pudding. Trim around the edges of the top piece of pastry and use any extra pastry to make small leaves or flowers, a large "X" , or a design of your choice to decorate the top of the pastry. Moisten the edges of both pieces of pastry with the beaten egg; press and inch together to seal. Brush the top of the pudding with the remaining beaten egg. Make 3 small holes in the crust to let steam escape. Cover loosely with foil and place in a water bath. Fill the water bath with boiling water, making sure it does not come up further than a 1/2 inch from the rim of the baking dish.

Carefully transfer to the oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours, adding more water to the water bath as necessary. Remove the dish from the water bath uncover, and continue to bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is a dark golden color.

TO SERVE: Remove from the oven and spoon equal portions of the pudding onto warm serving plates.

HELPFUL TIPS: Cooking the pudding in a water bath helps the crust remain light. To make a truly authentic English-style steak, kidney, and oyster pie, simply add 8 ounces of chopped beef kidney at the same time you add the beef.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Harper Collins. All rights reserved.

RecID 5260

nutrition information per serving

750 calories; 39g total fat; 176mg cholesterol; 330mg sodium; 47g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 48g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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