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Six weeks left!

15 Nov

I realised today that I had six weeks and four days left in my offal adventure. I’m pretty amazed that the end is drawing so close so quickly. I still have posts to write up and projects in the pipeline. I even still have offal to try! The offal freezer drawer is two thirds full still. Decisions, decisions …

What I am doing today is sharing the things I’m going to try and make in December (once I have my job applications, lectures and articles out of the way). Really I want to pick your brains, avid reader, and see if there’s anything I’ve left out.

  • BRAINS … I’m not a zombie (and I not sure I get the zombiefication of popular culture), but I do want to eat some brains. I think maybe a venison brain? If not it will have to be a pig brain.
  • PIG STOMACH: the Tripe Shop in Leeds market sells them. You’re meant to eat them dressed in salt and vinegar. That seems like ultimate offal to me. I do however, enjoy a challenge. If I eat them all can I call myself a Yorkshirewoman?*
  • CURED KIDNEY – so I am made pancetta, and am clearly now a curing goddess. I’m going to try and salt some kidney. I don’t know where that will take me, but I’m willing to find out.
  • Real MINCEMEAT. I don’t think that’s particularly offal, but it is pretty medieval. And festive. And I love Christmas. I *will* get unbearable; I like the John Lewis adverts; I own TWO Christmas jumpers (not even ironically).

What else? What else have I discussed and tweeted and forgotten to write down? What would YOU do, if you were me?
And just to get you in the mood, here’s a photo from two years ago, of me getting intimate with the YULETIDE BEEF …


*I would never do that. I am totes Lincolnshire, through and through.**

**I hope my insides don’t look like the inside of Lincolnshire which would be mostly brussel sprouts, sausages and illegalr migrant workers.


Pig Kidney Stroganoff

30 Jul

Ve vere just expecting you Mr Bond ….

I’m not sure what puts a connection between James Bond, things that sound vaguely Russian and dodgy eastern European accents, but there you go. This can only be eaten and discussed if you use a comedy voice. Have you got your Xenia Onatopp voice in your head now? “Vot shall ve do viz zese pigz kiduhneyz?”

In all seriousness, I was super lucky at the Kirkstall Deli Market on Saturday.* I snuck in just before everyone packed up due to the pouring rain. My mission was to get some black pudding from the Blue Pig Company. I had some a few weeks ago on a romantic weekend away at the Craven Arms where they use it in their menu and it is well delicious! I then had a trawl around the other stalls, picking up some lovely tea and chatting to the venison man (they’d sold out of liver and kidneys) and the buffalo people (they didn’t have any offal). I did however, end up back at the Blue Pig stall, investing in some pork and apple sausages. I then spied some kidney at the back of the stand. Hiding. Sneakily hiding. To cut a long story, the kind stall owners gave me the two pig kidneys for free! Altruism at its best!

Normally when I cook kidney, I get kidney from the market. As it is a filtration organ, it does worry me slightly that these kidneys are not organic, so probably have residues from feed supplements and other animal things I don’t really know about! Pig and beef kidney are meant to be the kidniest tasting of them, so I was looking forward to experimenting with these lovely free range kidneys (but free range doesn’t necessarily mean organic, will have to investigate)!

Kidney stroganoff was a suggestion that my godmother made when I began this journey. She makes it quite often and loves it.

The recipe I based mine on was from good old Delia. I did make some changes though …


2 pork kidneys, 1 sliced onion, 2 oz butter, 8oz mushrooms (I like chestnut ones), 150ml soured cream, 1 tablespoon paprika, salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, cook the onion gently for ten minutes, add the mushrooms and cook for a further ten minutes. Prepare the kidney by de-coring and slicing. Turn the heat up under the pan and add the kidney, brown it all over. Next turn the heat down and add the paprika and the sour cream and simmer for five minutes.

We had ours with some kale and some brown rice. I’d recommend giving pig kidney a go. Especially if you’re going to pair it with nice robust flavours. A subtle blend of herbs wouldn’t stand up to it, but punchy paprika and black pepper both do the job well.

I pretended I was a secret agent eating hearty food in an Eastern Bloc country. James Bond would be proud.

*The Saturday I’m talking about was in May possibly … a little while ago certainly.

Kidney Rosemary Skewers

11 Jul

What it says on the tin really.

Take two lamb kidneys, cut in half and de-core. Take a long stick of rosemary, push in one side and then back through – it gives very easily, don’t worry.

If you have time let them rest for an hour or two in the fridge, so the kidney get all the rosemary sucked in.

Grill on a BBQ or fry on a high heat2 mins each side (4 if you like your offal well done).

Two ingredients. A whole deliciousness.

More things should be on rosemary skewers.


Lincolnshire Haslet – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 14

16 May

Wow. The last day of nose to tail fortnight and my eating along the animal challenge.

How do I feel? Full of meat. I’ve got a craving for cauliflower.

How far along the animal did I get? All the way, baby!

Here is the full nose to tail body part list: pig head, cow foot, pig lung, cow heart, deer kidney, chicken liver, cow stomach, lamb testicle, pig trotter, cow tail, sausages and caul fat.

Haslet seemed a fitting way to end my nose to tail fortnight. Here is what wikipedia says:

Haslet, also spelt ‘Acelet’, is a porkmeatloaf with herbs originally from Lincolnshire, England. The name is derived from the Old Frenchhastilles meaning entrails[1].

In Lincolnshire, haslet (pronounced hayzleht locally), is a meatloaf typically made from stale white bread, ground pork, sage, salt and black pepper.[2] It is typically served cold with pickles and salad, or as a sandwich filling.[citation needed]

Basically it is offal and off-cuts ground up with sage, salt and pepper; the pressed out of it; wrapped in caul fat; then baked. I haven’t tried to make it myself, mostly because Hargreaves of Spalding make the best ones and I try to alway have one in my Leeds-based freezer. It freezes really well and defrosts gently over-night.

I like to eat the end slices by themselves. As well as eating it cold, you can also fry it up and have it warm. A very versatile pork product indeed. The top should be a darker colour (due to the baking). If you look carefully at the picture above, you can see the pattern of the caul fat on the top. The caul keeps the haslet bound together.

In my sandwich on Sunday, I added fresh sage leaves and a few leaves of Jack-by-the-hedge. That made an excellent sandwich.

Don’t buy the stuff from the supermarket deli counter. It is minging. If you do, I’ll play you this Cyndi Lauper clip very early in the morning, so you faint from over-exposure to Shaggy. That’s real threat.

If you’d like to try a proper one, it can be arranged. You can either find a proper Lincolnshire butcher (if he doesn’t rub his hands together, he’s not the real deal) or send me a message and I can be your dealer.

Another Lincolnshire delicacy to try is Stuffed Chine. Shaggy loves it.*


*I imagine he does.

Venison Kidney – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 8

8 May

What a lovely bank holiday dinner! At the bottom of the plate you can see my venison kidneys, then clockwise is garlic kale and mushrooms, fruity red cabbage and roast potatoes. It did seem a little odd to have such a Winter plate in May, but I think we had our 3 days of summer in April, so I guess we’re looking to Autumn now.

I’ve said before how beautiful I think venison kidneys are. I definitely think they are the place to start a kidney odyssey with. I floured these and then fried them for a couple of minutes each side. Delicious.

One thing I did note was that because these ones had been frozen (I think this is right) they were harder to de-core. Next time, I’ll de-core them and then freeze. The freezing didn’t change the texture of the meat or the taste, but just seemed to entrench the core a bit more. Or these were firmly cored kidneys. Something to think about though.

Have you noticed freezing make a change in some meat?

And here’s where we are along the carcass!

Five species now!

Surprise Deer Kidney

18 Apr

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.

Here are our pickings:

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 …