Kidneys a Complete Guide

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When I began cooking professionally, kidneys, like other types of offal were menu staples. They were often to be seen on breakfast menus, usually served devilled on toast which was a favourite of many a Victorian household. In recent years they have become little more than a supporting act for other ingredients in pies and puddings, which is a shame because to the offal aficionado they are a tasty treat, which can be cooked in a number of ways.

Lambs Kidneys
Calf’s and Lamb’s kidneys are the most popular with pig’s and ox’s tending to lag behind. Kidneys taken from a younger animal i.e. calf or lamb can be cooked quickly and served on the rare to medium side whilst an ox’s kidney will prove tougher and require longer cooking, hence its suitability for steak and kidney pie.

Kidneys are encased in a crisp white layer of fat known as suet and before the days of EC regulations it was popular to roast the kidney whole still encased in its own protective casing. A trimmed kidney will have had its outer membrane removed so all that is left to do is to remove the white inner gristle with a sharp knife.

Kidney recipes tend to be quick and easy affairs, good with a splash of brandy or wine, a few mushrooms, some good bacon or a healthy pinch of cayenne. Kidneys are a perfect foil to sweet and sour flavours, the pan can be deglazed with good quality vinegar or sherry and the acidity balanced out with a pinch of sugar, some redcurrant jelly or a pile of roasted sweet onions.


Content and picture © Miles Collins