Thursday, 9 February 2012
Beef and Kidney Pie
I've eaten some very interesting kidneys in the last month. Mild, almost sweet lamb kidneys, veal kidneys and much stronger beef kidneys that Laurie from Hawk Hill Farm sent me. Now, I must state upfront that the real kidney lover in this family is my husband. I eat kidney, but I don't love them like he does. It's been quite some time since we've cooked beef kidneys.
The Hawk Hill Farm beef kidneys were from a two year old Angus/Ayrshire cross steer raised on forage and supplemented with oats and barley during the last two months. We sautéed one kidney with mushrooms and served in a mustard cream sauce. Good, but the kidney was really too strong for the sauce, the recipe is better with veal, or lamb kidneys. (You can soak beef and pork kidneys in cold salted acidulated water - 1 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice and about 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt per 250 ml / 1 cup of water - for up to an hour before cooking them to reduce their strong taste. Drain and pat them dry before cooking).
It's important to remember that kidneys come in pairs. Veal and beef kidneys are larger and multilobed so people often forget that there are two in each animal. Kidneys are covered with a fine membrane, so make sure you remove it, by making a a shallow slit on the rounded side of the kidney and pulling it off with your fingers. Often kidneys are sold with the membrane already removed. Small kidneys can be left whole, or cut in half, while a beef/veal kidneys are usually cut it into pieces following the natural pattern of the lobes.
We decided to make beef and kidney pie with the other kidney. The advantage of making beef and kidney pie, for the kidney novice, is that you can decide just how much kidney you want to add, and you have the pastry on top and mushrooms and celeriac (celery root) in the stew to distract you. All you need to complete the meal is something green, a green salad or even better braised rapini to balance the kidney.
It is a perfect way to serve strong flavoured kidneys.