It’s long been a mystery to me why people are so keen to reject offal out of hand. There’s maybe a touch of squeamishness about the idea of eating internal organs, maybe, but it can be a surprise to many how flavoursome and tender they can be, cooked sympathetically. Maybe they need more preparation than your average packaged meat from the supermarket, but they do repay the effort. Then there is haggis, which is a joy to behold, cooked sensitively – just a shame that so many people can’t bring themselves to ignore the list of ingredients and just try some! 🙂
Granted in my own case I developed an aversion to liver during childhood, not helped by the fact that it was sometimes cooked to the point of being shoe leather, though when you eat lightly cooked, mild and tender calves liver, for example, all memories like that can be banished for good! The secret is not to overcook – serve liver, kidneys and heart a touch pink in the centre. Cook kidneys for a couple of minutes or they will begin to toughen.
Kidneys are a fine example: if they are too strong for you, try lambs kidneys, cut them in half and cut out the fatty core. Then soak them in milk for 20 minutes. Trust me here, you will not be disappointed!! Once that is done, there are many uses to which they can be put, going way beyond the ubiquitous steak & kidney pie. They work beautifully in curries for example (‘gurda‘ – see here), all manner of stir-fries, sherried, with mustard sauce, and of course in the classic Anglo-Indian style, devilled.
Traditionally, the devilment was provided by mustard, worcester sauce and a pinch of cayenne powder, though my recipe goes just a little further along the road towards horns and a tail…
- Lambs kidneys, halved lengthways, core removed, then cut in half again (3-4 per person is plenty for brunch)
- Shallot, finely sliced
- Squeeze of garlic puree
- Squeeze of tomato ketchup
- Tsp of mustard powder (or English mustard)
- Dash of chilli sauce
- Worcester sauce, to taste
- Dash of balsamic vinegar
- Hot buttered toast
Saute the shallot for a minute, then add kidneys on high heat to colour rapidly on all sides, then season to taste. Add remaining ingredients, reduce for 20-30 secs. Serve on hot toast. Enjoy!
PS. For further information on offal and cooking with offal, try here 😉