Kidney FAIL

I bought some frozen lamb kidneys from the farmer's market, organic, free range, etc. I've always wanted to try kidneys for breakfast, after reading a billion English murder mysteries, so I tried it. Maybe it was the preparation, but once they were almost cooked, I smelled State Fair. You know, the livestock in pens smell. I asked my husband if he agreed, and he did, and was completely turned off of trying them. I tried them anyway, and they TASTED like state fair. Is that what kidneys taste like? I fried them with caramelized onions and salt. I'm afraid to try again.

sarah k.


stilltrying December 2, 2011
Just had to say that this is so interesting- after reading many British-based books, beginning with Jamies Herriot, I have always wanted to try kidneys too. I think I still will, but maybe deviled.
sarah K. April 17, 2011
amysarah, what a great philosophy! (Super-smellers, UNITE!)
torvum December 2, 2011
Just because you have super smell doesn't mean you don't like kidneys. I resent the fact that you're trying to rationalize your dislike of kidneys.
amysarah April 17, 2011
sarah k., I hear you (smell you?) I'm not a squeamish eater - raw oysters, sea urchin, sweetbreads,'s all good. But I ate kidneys exactly once. (They were rognons de veau, not lamb, however.) I'm pretty sure they were well prepared - it was at a terrific bistro in Paris, where a friend who was a regular took us to dinner. Lovely presentation, very tasty sauce...but I could not get past the faint - yet unmistakable - whiff of pee. (Must be a regional thing - where you thought state fair, what came to my mind was the distinctive aroma of seedier subway stations ;-) Of course, I exaggerate, but still. Ate lots of bread that night.

I get that this quality is intrinsic to what kidneys are, and I know people who love them...but my feeling is this: there aren't enough days or opportunities to eat all the things I actually want to eat, so if there are a (very) few that just don't work for me...I'll simply eat something else. Something not kidneys.
sarah K. April 17, 2011
Boulangere, I found the texture similar to chicken hearts, which I also love. Slightly chewy. But that smell? It was the kind of smell that gets stuck in your sinuses and you can't make it go away!

p.s. We're so happy to give you a good chuckle, stop by anytime!)
boulangere April 17, 2011
I've only had kidneys once, and it was a long time ago. I didn't care for the texture more than anything, which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that this is one of the more informative and at the same time laugh out loud funny threads I've seen in a while.
sarah K. April 17, 2011
Ha! I loooove livers, anchovies, and cilantro! And I always have. I do have some super-smelling, which never went away after my first pregnancy, and only got worse with the subsequent 2, but my husband? As far as I know, he's not pregnant. Anyway, I'll try once more, once I have forgotten about the pig-pen smell.
betteirene April 17, 2011
Hmmm. . .well then, if you cored the kidneys, I'm stumped I've never thought of kidneys as an "acquired taste" food--not like liver or anchovies or cilantro--and I've never noticed them to be particularly pungent during cooking, unlike tripe (pee-ewwy!). Maybe the kidneys of free-ranging organic lambs have a more intense flavor. Or, could your senses of smell and taste be heightened because you might be pregnant, which caused you to suddenly crave the British food you've been reading about? (When I was pregnant, I could smell raw carrots in a yucky kind of way from a block away.)

It looks as if pre-soaking is your answer if you decide to cook kidneys ever again.

A mighty high-five to you for actually trying something different, and for even considering trying it again!
sarah K. April 17, 2011
:) Betteirene, I do wish I had seen that video before my attempt this morning. That was pretty much what the instructions said to do (from Darina Allen's Forgotten Skills of Cooking), and I did it all, it just probably took longer, since I didn't know what to expect. But I did get all the white stuff out before cooking them.
betteirene April 17, 2011
Oh, how offal!

How to clean kidneys: If there is a white membrane still attached, pull it toward the inner crescent, then cut it off with kitchen scissors. Slice the kidney in half lengthwise and cut away the offal smelly pouch. Rinse the kidney thoroughly and you'll be good to go, so to speak.

Let this be a lesson: Ask here before cooking so you don't get p**d off, especially at breakfast. . .not a good way to start the day.
sarah K. April 17, 2011
I like the ideas of soaking in lemon juice or milk. I soaked them in salted water, like the recipe said, but it must not have been enough. Pierino, my husband did think it was funny that we were trying to eat an organ that manages waste!
pierino April 17, 2011
Kidneys do have a slightly uric taste. That is their function as an animal organ afterall. You either like it or you don't, but it's going to be there.
nogaga April 17, 2011
my grandmother always soaked them in milk for a little over an hour, then rinsed them off very well and salted and peppered before grilling them.
lastnightsdinner April 17, 2011
It has been a few years since I've cooked lamb kidneys, using Nigel Slater's recipe for Kidneys Cooked with Sherry from his book Real Fast Food, but his recipe calls for soaking the cleaned kidneys in the juice of a lemon for 10 minutes or so, which I suspect helped purge any off odors?

My write up and his recipe is here:
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