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Theodora FitzGibbon’s devilled steak & kidney stew or pie

This recipe is not only an exercise in rescue archeology but also in reverse engineering. A fragment of it appears, barely, in The Pleasures of the Table: Rediscovering Theodora FitzGibbon by Donal Skehan. The recipe appeared in the column Mrs. FitzGibbon wrote at The Irish Times for nearly two decades, and Skehan has reproduced part of the page without its date in his book The illustratiom is undersized and blurry so the partial text is barely legible and the instructions not quite complete. For some unfathomable reason Skehan has included neither this nor the other recipes on the Irish Times page in The Pleasures of the Table. The dish is a bit of a departure from traditional Irish cuisine in its use of tomato, but not entirely; curries have been as common in Ireland as they have been elsewhere in the British Isles and tomatoes appear in curries. For four.

  • Tarot-Devil035.jpg2 Tablespoons neutral oil
  • 1½ lb good stewing beef (skirt, flank, shin or chuck) cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 lb veal kidney cored, trimmed and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • a big sweet onion peeled and cut into cresents
  • 2-3 celery stalks cut into ½ inch chunks
  • good salt (like Maldon)
  • 8 oz tomato sauce (preferably Goya) or passata
  • about 10 oz beef stock or consommé
  • a Tablespoon or more curry powder
  • cayenne or red chili flakes (unless your curry powder is hot)
  • a generous pouring of Worcestershire
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • a sheet of puff pastry (optional; see Step 4)


  1. Sear the beef and kidney in a heavy pot over high heat in turn with sufficient films of oil and remove them from the pot.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, if necessary add a little more oil to the pan and wilt the vegetables with a sprinkling of salt. They should soften in 5 to 10 minutes or so.
  3. Return the meat and kidney to the pot along with the remaining ingredients, bring the filling or stew to a boil and simmer it until the beef is tender, usually in 1 to 1½ hours.
  4. Either serve the devil as a stew or let it cool, top it with puff pastry (thawed frozen puff works fine) and bake the pie in a 425° oven until the pastry is brown and crisp, usually in 20-25 minutes.



-The devil is, as Mrs. FitzGibbon’s headline shouts, ideal “For A Rainy Cold Evening” and if you work from home is a reasonably easy thing to assemble on a grim weekday. The preparation takes little time and you need not tend the devil while it simmers.

-Mrs. FitzGibbon uses ox, or beef, kidney, which may taste a little strong for twenty-first century palates, or perhaps not. Any kidney--lamb or pork--is good as well. The original recipe cuts them into bigger, one inch, chunks.

-She selects 2 sliced carrots instead of the Editor’s celery, underseasons the devil with ½ teaspoon curry powder and a single bay leaf.

-She also uses a can of condensed tomato rice soup instead of our sauce, presumably because the rice adds an element of l’Indienne.

The original recipe omits mention of Worcestershire, but because it is a traditional element of devils its addition does not tread on tradition.

Consommé--canned Campbell’s is, surprise, an excellent product--adds some pleasant texture to the devil in place of ungelatinous stock but be careful. It is salty.