Catch up on shows with The Coast On Demand
Friday, May 18, 2012 2:32 PM
Coming in to a kitchen where steak and kidney are simmering gently under a golden crust or, for a change, a pancake batter topping, cannot help but stimulate the taste buds, and the chances are that when the pie is cracked and the savoury steam assails your senses, your mouth will be watering!
In recent times offal has offended city sensitivities and has almost disappeared from displays in butcher shops; and it’s clear in supermarkets, where meat comes pre-cut and wrapped in plastic, that offal doesn’t play a role for most shoppers.
We are, today, somewhat extravagant in that, through necessity, historically almost the entire animal was utilised, and that included the offal, of which only a few pieces are regularly eaten today. It seems, though, that according to sales kidneys are making a come back, but you’ll almost certainly have to ask for them.
In the classic Steak and Kidney pie, through slow cooking, the superb flavour of kidneys contributes to the rich gravy, giving this casserole its unmistakable aroma and taste.
Kidneys come in pairs with calf and lamb kidneys are the most popular, having a less pungent flavour than those from ox or pigs.
Buy fresh kidneys immediately before you need to use them. They should be shiny and plump-looking; if dull, wrinkled or dry-looking with any discolouration, leave them on the shelf. There should be little or no smell – a strong smell indicates old age!
If you must buy kidneys in advance refrigerate them, covered, and use within 24 hours. This is one foodstuff that’s best going from shop chiller to pot…offal does not keep well.
Lamb kidneys, which are quite small, should be firm looking, an even, shiny dark brown in colour, and pink inside. Tender and tasty, they are best pan fried, grilled or braised quickly at high temperature; cook for too long and the kidneys will be tough.
Calf /veal kidneys are regarded as the best for gentle flavour and should also be cooked quickly for best results.
Ox, mutton and pork kidneys are all better for braising, stewing or casseroling in long, slow, moist cooking. The older the animal the larger, coarser darker and less tender will be its kidney.
Pork kidney can be used to make pâté.
Although kidneys are high in cholesterol, they are also very high in iron, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorous, vitamin B12 and selenium, with good levels of vitamins A and C, thiamin, zinc as well as some copper, magnesium and pantothenic acid.
Trim out the tough white core with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. If you think you may find the flavour too strong, especially of ox, sheep or pork kidney, soak in milk for a few hours or overnight; lamb kidneys shouldn’t need soaking as they are mild tasting.
Recipes to try
Family Steak and Kidney Pie
This is my family’s favourite version of the classic recipe.
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