I can still remember the first time I had veal kidney, rognons de veau. It was in 1994, I had started to work in Paris and the local editor-in-chief invited me for a lunch in rue Montorgeuil. Upstairs in a smokey restaurant, he ordered the days’ special and recommended it to me. Unsure whether it was a test, I acquiesced and a while later there were two plates with an oblong organ, dark red coloured and with a mustard sauce. It was a bit rubbery in bite but otherwise it was fine and I showed that I was open-minded and not too set in any fixed preconceptions, dietary or otherwise.
I do not remember the other times, but I have had kidneys cut up and fried with port and served with pasta and some other variations with mushrooms and cream. Of course, in England we had steak and kidney pie, but you do not really ‘see’ the kidney in the filling.
We were at the market this weekend and my wife fancied kidney so we bought some at the tripier (offal butcher). It was almost completely without fat. Originally, the kidney is surrounded by whitish fat and some recipes call for the kidney to be cooked in its own fat. Others take the fat off and keep it for use for frying of potatoes, for instance.
For me, fat is fat and best be used sparingly. I made a sauce using veal stock, some of the liquid I had used for soaking dried cep mushrooms, and a few spoons of coarse mustard.
Ingredients for two
- One veal kidney
- Some butter
- One litre of veal stock (I used stock powder in hot water)
- Mixed fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, basil)
- Several twists of the pepper mill
- Two cups of soaking liquid of dried ceps (if available)
- Preheat an oven to 180 °C.
- Put some butter in the bottom of a oven dish
- Put the kidney on the dish, put in oven en cook for 10 minutes, then turn the kidney and cook for another 10 minutes. Check for the colouring and prick with a needle, if red juice runs out then you need to cook longer, if it is pink to white then you are fine.
- Take out the kidney, cover with foil.
- Put the veal stock in a pan, add the cooking juices of the kidney, add the soaking liquid, the herbs and the pepper. Bring to the boil and keep to the boil – paying attention to avoid over cooking and by stirring regularly – until there is half a litre of liquid left.
- Turn down the heat, add the mustard, stir and cook a bit longer.
- Strain the liquid.
- Put the kidney on a serving plate and add some of the sauce.