About Beth

Beth
Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene
Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah
Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug
Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy
Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi
Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan
Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry
Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma
Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim
Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Sauteed Lamb Kidneys with Onion, Treviso Style | Main | Sautéed Lamb Kidneys with Onion, Garlic, and White Wine »

Sauteed Lamb Kidneys with Onion, Treviso Style

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Before you go back and check, yes, Palma posted about this already. Funny story though . . . way back in the spring when we were trying to decide who would be responsible for which recipe on 'our' day we were able to trade off fairly well - then we reached paged 443 - our only recipe in the variety meats section. Neither Palma nor I wanted to make the lamb kidneys. Not one bit. So we decided that we would both make them! We are firmly int eh miserly loves company camp.

And here we are.

I've been dreading making the kidneys. I've never eaten kidneys before but I was sure that they would taste awful - no amount of Marcella's skill or art would raise these to the level of anything I'd want to find on my plate.

I am the one who suffered through 'liver night' as a child by making multiple trips to the bathroom to spit a mouthful of liver in the toilet or coughing liver into my hand and surreptitiously putting it down on the floor for the dog to eat.

We had the fattest dog on the street.

I hate the smell, taste, texture . . . everything really . . . of liver. I have never eaten any other 'organ' meat. Well, that isn't completely true - there is the time mom served up a huge cow tongue. . . now known as 'the night all four of us refused to eat a thing'.

We North Americans tend to like our meat packaged into a non-recognized format - a hunk of steak, chop, or roast sitting on a brown piece of paper bears little resemblance to a living, breathing animal. We don't use the whole animal the way our ancestors did, well, I suppose we do if you happen to be visiting McDonalds and purchasing a box of Chicken McNuggets or you purchase a hot dog from a sketchy street cart - all sorts of animal parts might appear in those treats.

Yet I'm a big ol' carnivore (you're heard me say if we weren't meant to eat meat we wouldn't have incisor teeth . . . we don't need incisor teeth to gnaw on a carrot). I LOVE meat. I just don't love the thought of organ meat. I know that many do enjoy organ meat and love it to bits, not me. After making my last recipe I know that Marcella can understand the human curiosity of taste because she explained that she can not abide the taste of cinnamon.

Finally I could avoid it no longer. Page 443 was looming and I had to get busy.

I called my usual store to see if they could get some lamb kidneys in for me - the butcher laughed and said 'we have to order a 50 pound box and no one will buy them.'

I knew I didn't need (or WANT) 50 pounds of them!

Then I started calling around to the wonderful butchers in Toronto's St Lawrence Market. Sure enough I found one who had some kidneys in stock but not many - I had to promise to come that same day to get them because they would soon be gone. I started thinking positively about the kidneys - clearly someone in Toronto LOVED them.

I left the office, took the subway, and walked three blocks to the market. The butcher had a HUGE pile of lamb kidneys. HMMM - no doubt his 'they'll fly out of the fridge' comment was a ruse to gets someone down to the stall to actually take some lamb kidneys off of his hands! HA

They were CHEAP - $ 3.80

I also found some wild boar at the same stall. It was NOT cheap. Visions of papardelle with wild boar ragu soon danced in my head - I gladly forked over $ 38 for IT and went on my way.

Funny - no regrets at all about spending $ 38 for wild boar but most unhappy about spending a measly $ 3.80 on kidneys.

Back at work I stored the boar and lamb kidneys away in the refrigerator near my office. When I left at the end of the day wouldn't you know . . . I left them behind!

Apparently even my sub-conscious was balking at the thought of cooking lamb kidneys.

Happily one of my colleagues was able to deliver them to me on Thursday.

We were having company on Saturday so I decided to serve the kidneys as a starter. Now lest you think badly of me (nice guy to spring kidneys on unsuspecting dinner guests) I did talk to our friends, wonderful gourmet cooks, in advance and see if they were OK with it. They are of the 'we'll try anything once' group of eaters so the kidneys made it on the menu.

The kidney recipe was easy to follow. Marcella leads you through some critical steps that she writes are necessary to 'extract some of the liquid responsible for the sharpness that is sometimes an objectionable component of kidney flavour'.

Spilt in half, the kidneys soak in a vinegar/water mixture for 30 minutes before they are sliced into smaller pieces. These pieces, resembling slice mushroom caps, sautéed for 2 minutes until they lose their colour and release a dark red liquid.


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Objectionable is right. The smell of the liquid was horrid. Memories of my childhood liver nights traumas flashed back and I almost had to race to the bathroom. I hadn't even tasted the kidneys and I was sick.

Literally.

I opened the windows and sprayed room deodorizer around before our guests arrived.

Once the liquid is all released the kidneys are rinsed, drained, and dried.

Marcella writes 'rinse the sauté pan and wipe it dry'. I wanted to throw it out and buy a new one. I am sure it will have 'kidney' smell forever.

I put the recipe on hold at this point while we enjoyed cheese, crackers, cured meats, prosecco and laughter.

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Soon the moment could not be avoided any longer. . . we moved into the dining room and I quickly finished up the kidneys by sautéing a bit of onion in a bit of butter and oil, quickly re-warming the kidneys in the onion mixture, tossing in some parsley, and then serving it up on plates.

The next dilemma was trying to figure out what wine to serve with kidneys! In the end I don’t think it matters because whatever wine will not work.

The verdict?

Paul ate all of his kidneys - suggested that they tasted like liver. He loves liver apparently. Our guests ate some of them and agreed with Paul. I ate one piece and put the rest down on the floor for the cats who came over, gave a sniff, scratched me in disgust, and walked away thereby proving once again that cats are smarter than dogs.

Now there are those of you out there who like this sort of meat - you'll love this recipe! Honest, you will. It is quick, easy, and apparently the taste is amazing if you are programmed to like this type of meat.

Thus ends our only foray into the Variety Meats chapter someone else will get to try poached calf’s brains and tripe (which I’ve had in Florence and enjoyed actually) . . . on to vegetables for Palma and I . . .

Comments (4)

David:

For most of human history there was not much food about. People ate what they could to keep them alive, and did not waste food that was edible. I suspect some less obviously tasty animal products were normalised within certain cultures as a result of this. But unless you have been brought up with it...

Jane:

Thanks, Jerry, this made my day. I am right in your camp--all the way. I can not even imagine even making this. I am proud of you!

Marcella Hazan:

You are an amusing man, Jerry, but this time I was not amused. I don't think making fun of any food that has obtained an established place in cuisine through the endorsement of civilized palates is bad manners. And I believe that remarks about running to the toilet or feeding your portion to the cat are juvenile and out of order. Jane may think it is something to be proud of. I do not.

Marcella - you made me smile. One of the things I find so wonderful about the Italians that I have met over the years is their utter and complete passion for food. I have wittnessed more heated debates over the food that appeared an Italian table than I have about any other topic.

When we pomodori agreed to work our way through your amazing cookbook we agreed that we would be honest about our adventures. I tried to be very clear that the issue was with me and my tastes and had nothing to do with the recipe. I also try to make light out of most situations.

There are many foods that have an established place in the culinary tradition of a culture that many of us would find problematic . . . snake . . . monkey . . . scorpion . . . beaver tail (the real tail of a beaver - not the fried pastry version one can find in Ottawa . . .) . . . dog . . . Just because somethng has a well established place on the menu of a people doesn't mean that the whole lot of us need follow suit nor love it.

As you know I have a passion for most things Italian - on Saturday I discovered that the 'odd one out' is kidneys.

On to vegetables . . .

Marcella Hazan:

My dear Jerry,

You miss the point, which surprises me in a man careful with words. I don't take issue with what one likes or doesn't like. Nothing could be more futile, and my own column of dislikes is far from empty. I take issue with the derisive attitude that many people like Jane, and in this last post, you, manifest toward foods you don't get. That derisiveness offends the dignity that any element of a valid culinary tradition - whether it is dog, donkey, monkey or scorpion - possesses and the respect that it is entitled to for its role in a cultural tradition.

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