You’re either going to love this recipe or hate it. Because that’s the way it is with liver and kidneys – no fence sitting allowed. On the farm we ate every part of the animal, so organ days happened. I considered it a unique form of child abuse as an eight-year-old. My relationship with liver and kidneys changed when I became a cook because I discovered the secret – don’t overcook it!

My favourite treatment of lamb kidneys is to brush them with olive oil and chuck them on the braai. A few twists of sea salt and it’s the perfect holding snack while I wait for that leg of lamb. And then there’s my beef shin and kidney pie, such a treat any time of year. But the lovely folks from Anthonij Rupert Wines sent me a winter care package recently, containing among other wonderful goodies a bottle of their Terra del Capo Sangiovese (read more about this wine lower down) as well as a bottle of olive oil, red wine salt and handmade spinach pasta. So I knew, kidneys in Sangiovese it had to be.

All you need is…

250g punnet portabellini or button mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, finely diced
½ packet streaky bacon (100g), finely diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
8 lamb kidneys, halved and cleaned (see tips lower down for how to clean kidneys)
1 cup Sangiovese or other dry red wine
1 cup water
black pepper
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs flour
extra virgin olive oil
large handful parsley, finely chopped

Heat a large saucepan and add two tablespoons olive oil. Add the mushrooms, bacon and onion and fry, stirring, until the onion is soft – about 5 minutes. Add the garlic for the final minute of frying. Spoon out the vegetables and add another tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter to the same pan. Brown the kidneys in two batches – don’t overcook them, four minutes does the trick. Remove kidneys and cover to keep warm.

Add the vegetables back to the pan and add wine to deglaze the pan. Boil for a minute, then add the water, thyme and bay. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed (it will need a good bit) plus ten twists of black pepper. Knead the remaining tablespoon of butter with the flour to form a roux. Divide into three or four lumps and add them to the sauce, one at time, stirring all the while. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes until the flour starts thickening the sauce. Return the kidneys to the pan along with any resting juices and heat through.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stalk, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve on mash, polenta, toasted sourdough or ciabatta, or with ribbon pasta.




20 min


20 min


tips, tricks and trivia

How to clean lamb kidneys

Rinse the kidneys in water and pat them dry. Use a small sharp knife to slice them in half lengthwise. Now use small sharp scissors to cut out the white core and the little ‘tentacles’ that anchor it to the kidney.


More options for this recipe

If you don’t like kidneys but do like liver, you can replace the kidney with ox liver. Simply slice the liver in 1cm thick slices and follow the recipe as you would for the kidneys.

If preferred, you could use pancetta instead of bacon in this recipe. If you want to make it extra special, use a selection of wild and exotic mushrooms instead of button mushrooms.

enjoy with

Sangiovese is an Italian grape and the must-have varietal for making Chianti. Not many South African vineyards bother with Sangiovese and that’s a pity. The grapes for Terra Del Capo’s Sangiovese come from the Rooderust farm in the Darling area where summers are hot and dry. But as it’s only 13km from the coast, the vines benefit from cooling Atlantic breezes.

The Terra del Capo 2017 Sangiovese showcases subtle spice and perfume notes on the nose and rich cherry, dark berry and a touch of liquorice on the palate. The wine is matured for 12 months in 500L French and American oak barrels (only 20% new oak).

It’s delightfully dry with a long finish. Smooth tannins mean it’s accessible now, but it does also have cellaring potential for another good few years. At time of publication it’s available online from the estate at R90 per bottle.



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