Most variety meats require long cooking times, but not always for tenderization. Pork kidneys, for example, fully cook through to tender in a few minutes over high heat. However, pigs tend to have "varied" diets, to put it mildly, and the kidneys, as a result of their function in the body, reflect that. So countering the feral, "offal-ish" taste that can easily overtake a dish requires properly purging the kidneys of impurities and cooking them for a relatively long time. If possible, always buy kidneys from a suckling pig, which have a much cleaner, fresher taste than those taken from a sow.
Things You'll Need
- Pork kidneys
- Food-storage container
- Large pot
- Paper towels
- Kitchen knife
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Heavy-bottomed saute or frying pan
- Lard, butter or oil
- Aromatic ingredients, such as shallots, garlic or chilis
- All-purpose flour
- Stock or broth
- Fresh herbs (optional)
- Sauce ingredients such as whole-grain mustard or Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- Cream (optional)
Soak the kidneys overnight in the refrigerator in a food-storage container of water. The next day, cover the kidneys with cold water in a large pot and bring it to a boil, skimming the surface with a spoon as froth collects.
Boil the kidneys for one full minute and immerse them in a container of ice water immediately after you take them out to cool down. Pat the kidneys dry with paper towels and bring another pot of water to a boil.
Peel or cut away the white caul fat and any hanging connective tissue, and discard or reserve it for another use. Find a tab to grasp on the thin membrane covering the kidneys and peel it away; the membrane comes off in one or two pieces.
Cut each kidney crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut out the white core from the center of each slice and discard it. Place the kidney slices in a colander and set it over the sink.
Pour boiling water over the kidney slices to rid them of any remaining vestiges of impurities and blood. Run cold water over the kidneys immediately afterwards.
Pat the kidney slices dry and season them to taste with kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
Heat a few spoons of lard, butter, oil or oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium heat. Add some aromatic ingredients -- minced garlic and shallots go well with pork kidneys -- and something to add some heat, such as a minced bird's-eye chili, if desired. Cook the ingredients until aromatic and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about five minutes.
Add the kidney slices to the pan, spacing each about 1/4 inch apart. Turn the kidney slices occasionally and cook them until seared and golden-brown on both sides, about five minutes.
Drop the heat on the stove to medium-low and add all-purpose flour, about as much as the amount of fat that is in the pan, and stir. For example, if it looks like the pan has a couple of tablespoons of fat in it, add a couple of tablespoons of flour.
Cook the flour until dark blonde, and add a few cups of stock or broth to the pan. Add a touch of wine also, ideally a bold red; reds stand up to the taste of kidneys better than crisp whites do.
Whisk the sauce, add some fresh herbs, such as thyme or rosemary, and season to taste. In addition to salt and pepper, pork kidney always go well with paprika, Worcestershire sauce and even a touch of whole-grain mustard. There are few flavors that can overpower pork kidneys -- let your palate be your guide.
Set the heat to medium and simmer the kidneys until the sauce reaches the desired consistency, or about 30 minutes.
Taste the sauce a final time, season if necessary and finish with a touch of butter or cream, if desired.
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