I blame Bambi. Everyone who I told at the pub that I’d eaten venison kidney the night before pulled faces and squirmed. Bloody Bambi. Making me seem like a heartless carnivore. I’m not, I’m just a normal person trying to think more about the how and the what in meat-eating.
On Saturday I went to the Headingley Farmers Market. This was exciting and also expensive. Mostly because Daz and I got very excited about more goose eggs and fancy mushroms and we wanted PIES. We bought two types of sausage and basically all the deliciousness, apart from fish. We looked at the fish and said ‘ooh fish’ but then decided that we didn’t need any for this week.
They do all look good don’t they? The part I was most excited about was the Venison Man from Round Green Farm near Wakefield. I had seen that they were on the list of attendees, so the night before I had emailed saying would they have liver, because I was doing this project and my friend Sophie had said it was well good. I didn’t get a reply, but I wasn’t to worry as when we got to the stall I was asked for the first time in my life “If I was the offal lady?” and I said yes. Not only was the gentlemen really knowledgeable and interested in what I was doing, but he also had liver, AND venison kidney “on the off-chance that you’d come”. I really think that is very kind and thoughtful and if you are buying venison you should it buy from them. We also bought Wild Boar sausages. They are delicious too. What I was most excited about was my surprise kidney …
Kidney was one of my first offals in January – do you remember Kidney is dense? I’ve eaten pork and lamb kidney and I ate rabbit kidney on holiday last year in Greece, but never venison kidney (I’ll use the proper name now I’ve shocked you with a bit of a Banbi reminder). If truth be told I’ve never really eaten much venison – I guess I’ve never thought to buy it myself and in restaurants it’s always been in the above £15 a la carte area, which is an area I try to steer clear from. What I can say is that venison kidney is delicious. It is far better than lamb kidney (which is meant to be tops) and I urge everyone to have a go.
The kidneys from Round Green Farm were firm and succulent the next day when I cooked one (so they keep well – this is a plus after a kidney went foul on a 20 minute car journey a while ago – it was from Sainsbury’s FYI). And gamey. And lovely.
I wanted to keep the kidney recipe paired down (after all the essential oil excesses – see I can show restraint).
I mixed a couple of tablespoons of plain flour with salt and pepper and some smoked paprika, following advice found on Youhavetocookitright (a really good blog too). Then I cut the kidney in half removed the white core (I am getting much better at this) and dredged both halves in the flour mixture. I heated some butter in a pan and fried them on each side for about 3 minutes each (meduim-high gas heat).
I added a few shakes of Henderson’s Relish – mostly on a whim – you could use Worcester Sauce, or even tabasco, or even leave it out.
After the frying I put them in the oven to keep warm while I added some bouillon to the pan and reduced it, whilst scraping off the delicious flour and kidney bits, to make I suppose a jus! I think it was really a thin gravy.
Here it is cooking down, you really want only a couple of tablespoons of it to be left. When that was done I put the kidneys on a plate with some savoy cabbage and poured my cooking liquor on top. Ten minutes tops from cupboard to plate. Brilliant.
And there you are. A blurry camera phone picture of my delicious dinner. I think venison kidneys are my new favourite type of kidney. Cooking them quickly means they cook almost all the way through with just a bit of pink, so they are juicy and delicious.
I think the secret fear people have of kidneys is that they will taste of urine. I’m pretty sure some do – I’m sure I’ve bought them, but with these (and you can pretend I’m whispering) THERE IS NOTHING OF THE URINOUS ABOUT THEM. Really, if you’re thinking of putting your fingers into the kidneys waters, venison kidney is the way to go.
I have also been promised a brain …