We’ve all done it. Or, most home cooks have. Bought the wrong ingredient. It’s not often fatal, just irritating. I’d bought these pig’s kidneys, you see. Cheap as chips. Cheaper than chips, actually. But when I got back to the house and looked up the recipe (in A Taste of France with photographs by Robert Fresson, a book that’s stil a benchmark in food cookery almost 30 years on), it was for pig’s liver, not kidneys at all. Never mind. Adapt, I said to myself. Think on your feet. Come up with a variation. So that is what I did.
Given that pig’s kidneys may not be everyone cup of offal, I given quantities for two, assuming that you can find a companion who shares in the gastronomic equivalent of the love that dare not speak it’s name. If you can’t, just eat the whole lot yourself.
4 pig’s kidneys
2 tbsp pork or duck fat or butter and peanut oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbs sherry vinegar
2 large slices sourdough bread
a few salad leaves
Soak the kidneys in milk overnight. In the morning wash off the milk and pat dry. Pour a generous layer of salt on a tray or dish. Put the kidneys on it. Spinkle salt very generously over the top. Put in fridge and forget for 3 or 4 days. The day before you want to eat them, wash off the salt, and cover them with cold water. Leave them in it overnight. Change the water every now and then if you can be bothered.
Hard boil the eggs and peel. Check that the radishes ared crisp. Soak them in cold water if they’re a bit limp. Griddle or toast the slices of bread. Cut up the kidneys into smallish chunks, removing any gristly or fatty bits. Heat the fat or butter and oil in a frying pan until smoking. Toss in the kidney chunks, Fry for 2-3 minutes until lightly tanned. Place the griddled/toasted bread on 2 plates. Divide the cooked kidney chunks between them and pop in the oven to keep warm. Deglaze the pan with the sherries, reducing them to a couple of tablespoons of syrup. Pour over the kidneys. Arrange the salad leaves around, Cut up the hard boiled eggs into quarters and arrange them too, and finally decorate with the radishes. Dash a little pepper over it all, and tuck in.
Note. You may think this is a hell of a lot of trouble to go to over some pigs kidneys, and you may well be right. But I enjoyed the process and the result immensely.