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
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.