Pig kidneys…not kid(ney)ing around!
Tomorrow, we’re going to make some pork stir fry with the pork loin we bought at Whole Foods a couple of days ago. Post will have photos!
As promised, below is the article my friend at work wrote about her trials and tribulations with pig kidneys (along with a couple of yummy sounding recipes!). Enjoy!
It seems like all things pork could never fail to be delicious—a juicy slab of salted bacon, sausage, perfect pork chops. Last December, I learned that this was not necessarily the case. In an attempt to go further back into the reaches of the old school and follow the environmentally-sound tradition of using all parts of the animal to justify my occasional meat eating, I attempted to prepare my first organ meat: pig kidneys. The kidneys sat in my freezer for a while, I’ll admit, as justified fears from chicken-liver paté tastings gone bad resurfaced every time I looked at these thick, dark organs.
Looking through my fridge to make dinner one night, I realized I had nearly all the ingredients to make one of my favorite simple dishes, Italian sausage with dinosaur kale, garlic, olive oil, and pasta—except the sausage. “How bad could it be if I use the kidneys instead?” I thought. I defrosted them and decided to slice them into small pieces and fry them (how could anything fried taste bad?!).
The first clue to how I would enjoy them was the smell—distinctly of urine! I persevered and cooked them until they appeared to be done and added them to my veggies and pasta. I could barely get through the dish without avoiding the chunks of kidney, which tasted as bad as they smelled. My roommates cats, who always hover around my food, didn’t really take to them either.
I’m not usually one to promote force-feeding, since it’s no fun and studies have been done to show that you don’t absorb nearly as many nutrients from food you don’t enjoy, but I also didn’t want to see the kidneys go to waste, as it was my objective to try to avoid the waste of whole animals for their meat. Plus I still hoped that with some training, my palette would adjust to this delicacy, as it has to so many other foods as I change what I eat. Bravely, I sought out solutions for making this disastrous dish into something great. My roommate suggested I make the remaining kidney into a paté, mixing in a small enough amount of it so that it would blend in with the other flavors (this amount turned out to be very little since the flavor is so intense!). I came up with the following, that turned out, I’ll admit, yummy:
Mediterranean Surprise Paté!
3 large portobello mushrooms chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
1 cup of red wine
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 dozen or more pitted olives
5 sprigs of parsley
2-3 tbsp cooked pig kidneys (err on the side of caution)
1/2 an onion chopped
fennel seeds and salt to taste
Sauté chopped mushrooms and red pepper in olive oil. Cook for 15 minutes on medium heat; add wine, and cook another 10 minutes. Cool. Blend or food process with garlic, olives, parsley, pig kidneys, onion, fennel, and salt. Serve on bread, toast, or crackers.
Still Can’t Finish Your Pig Kidneys Paté II
8 oz jar of pitted kalamata olives
8 oz jar of sundried tomatoes in oil (with few-no other preservatives) (I ate some of these, so not all of them made their way in)
8 oz jar or can of artichoke hearts
5 or more sprigs of parsley
2-3 cloves of garlic
2-3 tbsp cooked pig kidneys (err on the side of caution)
salt to taste
extra olive oil if needed
Blend or food process ingredients and serve on bread, toast, crackers, or any other spread vehicle.
Since I could only use small amounts of the kidneys in these, I still had my work cut out for me. I took my problem to the best place to find answers on these sorts of things—Facebook—and asked my foodie friends what I should do. One friend suggested I make a meatloaf, usually a mix of meats anyway, a brilliant idea! I turned it into fried meatballs, by far the best way to disguise—I mean enjoy—pig kidneys!
Pig Kidney Meatballs
1 lb ground beef
1 small bunch cilantro, finely chopped (about a quarter of those mega bunches)
3 tbsp cooked pig kidneys (err on the side of caution)
1/2-1 cup whole wheat flour (enough to form patties)
1-2 cloves garlic and 1-2 shallots, both chopped and sautéed
a pinch of cayenne
Sauté garlic and shallots in a bit of olive oil. Mix together with ground beef, chopped cilantro, pig kidneys, eggs, flour, and cayenne. Fry in oil, or dare I say, lard. Delicious with fried green tomatoes!
I had heard that organ meats are often the most nutritious parts of the animal, once again revealing that historically, the food of the poor (“Let them eat cake!” for example, the dark whole grain breads that peasants in France were resigned to while the rich ate refined white-flour delights) is often, ironically, healthier than that of the rich. The kidneys I bought from farmers that I know in upstate New York were cheap too, less than $3! Among the many nutrients a raw kidney holds, it is high in B12 and other B vitamins, Iron, Vitamin C, Copper, and Zinc, and these elements and others are probably even more potent in the meat of traditional farm-raised, local animals.
As meat-eating continues to get a bad rap, with it’s high environmental impact, not to mention the animal-cruelty and safety issues of an industry out of control, revisiting the traditional use of these other parts of the animals as food can provide more than sustenance. It reminds us of the difference between pork and pig, bringing us one step closer to the animals that our meat comes from—that connection that we have lost so many generations ago—and to honoring our food sources as living beings that have given their lives to become a part of us.
—Kristy Bredin, Holistic Health Counselor and Herbalist
For more information about Kristy and her work, please visit http://www.onedegreefromearth.com.