Ever cooked scary food? I used to cook it all the time back home, but now I have to adjust my scary food cooking schedule for local availability and my American family taste. What’s scary food? You know. I am talking liver, kidneys, brains, heart, feet, tongue, bone marrow, and other such things that typically make an average American shudder.
This always fascinated me. Why is it okay to eat a raw, and possibly even live, oyster — complete with its stomach content, but the thought of eating liver (OMG OMG OMG, it has B-L-O-O-D!!!) or anything else that’s not lean muscle making everyone cringe and say “ew”.
Well, it ends here and now. Because I have to tell you all that this is complete and utter nonsense. Because, I bet you tried crawfish, you definitely tasted lobster, oysters, you are downing that medium rare steak regularly, heck you may have even tried lox (wow) or caviar (wow wow). And of course you have had some raw sushi, have you not? So, exactly what it is that’s keeping you from having a bite of liver? My thoughts exactly. Upbringing.
I am not going to go into the whole nutritional aspect of eating organ meats. There is lots written about it, and my limited knowledge of the topic just pales next to, say, Sally Fallon’s write up on them. But the point I am trying to make is — you won’t know you like it until you actually try it. And in order to try it and get a good first impression, you need to do it right.
Here is one of the ways to deal with veal of lamb kidneys — the most tender kidneys you’ll find on the market. They have quite a mild flavor, so it would be a good start for those who are trying to incorporate new meats into their diet. They also cook quite fast, so this recipe works very well for them. I had to adjust the classic Beef Stroganoff recipe for tenderness of the kidneys, to prevent overcooking. Best way to serve Stroganoff anything is over mashed potatoes or noodles.
Here is what I did.
serves 4 skiddish or 3 reasonably adventurous people
- 2-3 tbsp butter
- 2-3 veal kidneys or 5-6 lamb kidneys
- 4 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white cooking wine
- 3 whole dry cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- salt and pepper to taste
Kidneys typically come with a white tube attached to them. With a sharp knife, cut the kidney in half lengthwise starting right where that tube is coming out. When kidney is halved, it’s very easy to cut out that cord. If you leave a little bit of white inside, that’s OK. Rinse kidneys well, and slice each half into approximately 1/4″ thick slices or slightly thicker (see photo).
Season sliced kidneys liberally with freshly ground black pepper.
Melt butter in a deep skillet over medium heat. When butter starts to bubble, add onions. Saute onions, shifting them in the skillet occasionally, until they are golden and start to brown lightly — approximately 8-10 minutes.
Add kidneys to onions all at once and stir immediately. Our goal is to avoid browning kidneys, we want them sauteed and protected by onions from direct frying. Saute for a few minutes until juices run clear and most of the juice is reduced.
Sprinkle flour over the kidneys and onions. Stir to coat. Cook for another 1-2 minutes or so, until all of the four is incorporated.
Add wine. Stir everything very thoroughly and scrape the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spatula. Stir again. Add bay leaf, salt and cloves. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until wine is reduced in half.
Add sour cream. Stir well until well incorporated. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
Serve over mashed potatoes or noodles.