Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lamb Kidneys (don't let an Australian talk you into them)

Farm Boy has a co-worker from Australia with whom he shares a love of lamb.  For years Mr. Oz has been telling Farm Boy how delightful lamb kidneys are and how it's a shame that they are so hard to find here in the US.  A few weeks ago Mr. Oz found a supplier for his beloved kidneys and insisted that Farm Boy and I try them.

Mr. Oz gave us instructions to just butterfly the kidneys and sauté them in butter.  Thinking that England is known for consuming both lamb and kidneys, I consulted Mrs. Beeton's Everyday Cookery (1963) and it recommended cooking them the same way, along with several choices in brown sauces.  I decided to try an onion and mushroom sauce.

Let me just state for the record that Farm Boy and I are both fairly adventurous when it comes to food.  Neither of us is prone to selective squeamishness and we both agree that all parts of the animal should be used.

Except, perhaps, the kidneys.

To prepare this, I dutifully butterflied the kidneys and removed the "cores".  So far, so good.

Yep, those are kidneys.  Cold, quivering kidneys.

I prepared the onion and mushroom sauce, then sautéed the kidneys in butter, as directed.  For the last few minutes, I simmered them in brown sauce, just the way Mrs. Beeton instructed. Again, so far, so good.

chambers 90c stove range
Kidneys simmering in my new old Wagner Ware square cast iron skillet.  I hope it will forgive me!
We plopped the kidneys onto plates and sat down to eat.  As I was cutting the first piece off of mine, the aroma wafted gently toward my nose and hit me just as I bit down.

Liver.  Liver that someone has peed on.

I managed to choke down that one bite, but I couldn't even make myself cut off a second piece.  In fact, I had to push the plate to the other side of the table to make the smell go away.  I gave up and ate cheese and crackers for supper.  Farm Boy powered through both of his, but he was retching and gagging by the end.  As an added bonus, he burped kidney all evening long, cursing every time.  I found that very amusing, but he didn't see the humor in it.

So now that we've tried lamb kidneys, I can share my recipe for them:

Don't.  Just don't.


  1. Really too bad. Lamb kidneys quickly pan broiled in butter can be great, but have to be extremely fresh. That means buying from a butcher who sells a lot of fresh locally grown lamb.

    A very fresh raw kidney should have no or very little urine odor. Some butchers who sell kidneys assume that people want to use them as pet food and don't care if they are a day or two old.

    I once bought a whole lamb and asked the meat shop to be sure and save the kidneys. When I was sorting through my neatly wrapped pile of meat packages, I was amazed to find a large package with about a dozen kidneys of obviously different levels of freshness. The butcher had simply thought I wanted animal food and gave me a free present of all the unwanted kidneys that he had on hand...nice gesture...wrong idea.

  2. Jack: Thanks!

    Robert: Unfortunately, the one supplier we had of fresh, local lamb moved away, so I'm not sure if or when we'll be able to try them again. These were purchased and shipped frozen, so they could very well have been intended to be served to pets. If we find a local source, I will try to be brave and cook them again, but I will definitely give them a thorough sniff test before I go to the effort of cooking them!