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Steak and Kidney Fray Bentos® Copycat

Introduction & method

I reviewed a Fray Bentos® 'pie' recently and was asked by some viewers if I could have a go at making one. I have to say the steak and kidney filling was magnificent, but the puff pastry lid is always going to be a problem.

Steak and Kidney Fray Bentos® Copycat Recipe

Notes About Ingredients

You can use any cut of beef but shin is perfect - it's tough and has lots of collegen - connective tissue. So it needs a good long cook but delivers an unctuous texture. The beer - an English bitter is ideal. I would avoid any pale lager-type beers, but IPAs should be fine.


Peel and dice the onion. Remove any fat and gristle from the beef and cut into small chunks. Toss the beef in flour. If your kidneys are smelly you might want to soak them in milk for 30 minutes before using them. After soaking, remove any silverskin and cut the kidneys into small chunks, cutting out the central core. Finely chop the parsley.

Cook the Beef and Gravy

Heat some oil in a frying pan on medium-low heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes until softened but not browned. Remove them from the pan. You may need to cook the beef in 2 batches because you don't want to crowd the pan. Add more oil, turn up the heat a little and add the beef, shaking off any excess flour. Sear the beef, stirring frequently to get it browned on all sides. 

You have 3 options for cooking the beef and gravy.
1) Using a pressure cooker will take 20 minutes.
2) Saucepan (Dutch oven) on stovetop, 3½ hours.
3) Slow cooker (crockpot), 6 hours on high or 8 hours on medium.

To do it in a pressure cooker add the onions, beef, beer, stock, parsley and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, put the lid on and when it comes up to pressure cook for 20 minutes.

Finish the Filling

For all cooking methods, do this when the beef is fully tender. Sauté the kidneys for 3-4 minutes. Add to the beef and gravy and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as required. If you have too much liquid, boil rapidly to reduce it. Now you may need to thicken the gravy by adding a slurry of 2 tsp cornflour (cornstarch) and 3 tsp cold water. Cook that in for a couple of minutes and the gravy should thicken up nicely - you want it to be the consistency of wall paint.

Assemble the Pies

If you've been storing your pastry in the fridge take it out an hour before using to let it come to room temperature. If it's ready-rolled, just cut discs the same size as the tins. If it's a block of pastry, sprinkle some flour on your worktop and roll out the pastry to about 4mm (quarter of an inch) thick then use an upturned tin as a guide to cut lids.
Fill a tin with filling and carefully place a lid over it. Squeeze the pastry up against the rim of the tin to form a loose seal. Beat one egg with a splash of milk and paint the lids with it.


Heat your fan/convection oven or airfryer to 180°C (356°F), 200°C (392°F) conventional, gas 6. Bake the pies for 20-25 minutes.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Steak and Kidney Fray Bentos® Copycat on YouTube.


Ingredients & Info

 500 grams puff pastry
 1 egg
 a splash of milk
 650 grams shin of beef
 2 pig's kidneys
 500 ml beer
 500 ml beef or chicken stock
 1 medium onion
 small handful flatleaf parsley
 2 bay leaves
  salt and black pepper to taste

Flour for dusting. Milk for soaking kidneys. Oil for sautéeing. Cornflour and water to thicken the gravy. You'll need the tins from some actual FB pies for best results - they are 15cm (6 inches) diameter and 3½cm (1½ inches) deep.

US Customary/Imperial

Makes 4 pies
Prep time: 10 minutes.
Cooking time: 1 hour.
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes.