After the haggis I thought my next attempt with the offal should be a proper piece of offal, something that really looks like an organ.
As research I’ve been looking at different offal blogs (I am not alone) and different sites that offer offal recipes. Quite a few people have been inspired by the chef Fergus Henderson and are working their way through his book Nose to Tail Eating (here). I’ve not read it, nor been to his restaurant, but I gather he uses a lot of offal. The best known dish (it appears) is roasted marrow bones with parsley salad. That’s one for the list.
However, at the moment I haven’t made a butchery friend in Leeds who’ll give me bones. Nor do I at the moment have time to go to the butcher (I wish I did – though I could never vie with my mother’s reputation as The Butchery Whore of East Anglia*). So I toddled after babysitting to Otley Sainsbury’s. There I found some chicken livers prepacked and at the butchery counter some lamb’s kidneys. Kidneys. They are definitely a filtration organ. Very organly I thought to myself. More organly than liver? Difficult to call.
So I bought both, with the intention of freezing the livers and eating the kidneys that night.
First you have to prepare your kidneys, which involves cutting them in half and cutting out the white core.
I should point out that the kidneys aren’t racing, but my camera lens was covered in kidney juice which creates this romantic soft-focus effect. The white core is pretty tough. It is made up of the major and minor calyxes which seem to drain the filtered excreta from the kidney and then they join up with the ureter. I am quite glad I removed them. Also I believe they are CHEWY, which is not nice.
I wanted nice juicy kidneys when they were cooked, not the beaten-into-submission-ones that my Great-Grandfather used to cook. Also simple, as by this point it was half past eight and I was a bit hungry.
- Prepare your kidneys. Cut out the white core and cut into chunks.
- Heat a tablespoon olive oil in a pan, add a tablespoon of soy sauce and a teaspoon of chopped chilli from a jar (those easy use ones). Mix that together.
- When pan is hot, but not smoking, add chopped kidneys and cook for about four minutes, jiggling them about so they get cooked on all sides.
- Meanwhile grab a bag of salad from the fridge, wash and put on a plate.
- Add the cooked kidneys – they should be two-tone as in the picture due to the density of the meat in different parts of the organ. I like them a little pink inside, but feel free to cook them through.
- The DE-GLAZE THE PAN! I added a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, shoozzed it around and then dressed the kidneys and the salad with it. Add a gherkin or two.
- Ta DAH
I thought the kidneys would like gherkins as an accompaniment just to cut through the richness. It was a lovely dinner. I did, however, learn two important lessons.
Lesson 1: Kidneys are dense. You only need one lamb kidney person for a light supper.
Lesson 2: Maybe cut them a little smaller and to the same size, ish. This is because some pieces were too big and I couldn’t be bothered to wash a knife up.
Overall, I was pleased with myself and my foray into the world of kidney. There’d been quite a few warnings online about how they can taste urinous (no surprise) and I do remember eating a steak and kidney pie years and years ago that did indeed taste of piss. These didn’t. They were juicy, definitely tasted meaty, but pleasantly. I would recommend trying them.
What I also though was good, was that Sainsburys gave you cooking instructions on the label. However I did, with fading orange hair, fur coat and yellow Doc Martens, get a very funny look from the butcher who served me. Clearly, I don’t look like an offal-eater … YET!