Friday, November 7, 2008

A load of old (w)offal

Cor, blimey guv'nor but I've been eating an offal lot of awful recently. I mean, erm, offal, OFFAL.

Those of a weak constitution I suggest you look away now, as I'm about to get grizzly on you.

Now, I should probably start off by telling you that I have a remarkable tendency to faint dead away at the sight or mention of blood, or indeed insides of any description. I must be one of the few people ever to attempt to donate blood and to FAIL. I failed to give an entire pint of blood in the allotted time - I was so tense that my blood omitted to flow fast enough for the requisite 15 minute maximum. Nurses across the world have had to rouse me from dazed stupors of such a description.

So it might come as a surprise that I am also, somewhat paradoxically, the sort of girl who wants, and indeed proactively seeks, to eat such (to some) grizzly innards as kidneys and liver. I'm also researching what other body parts I've yet to try. Ma Pea is eternally perplexed at how she has managed to produce an offspring who, rather than requesting sweets, manicures or undies, instead requests animals' insides.

In these penny-pinched times (yes, you've guessed it, this is another of my frugal goodies), eating the whole of the animal is not only not wasteful, but also terribly kind on your wallet. Calves' or lambs' liver and kidneys provide a very cheap and nourishing meal, jam-packed full of iron and nutrients. Some of you may find this abhorrent, but don't knock it until you've tried it! With a very particular, slightly creamy texture, it might take a little getting used to, but I think it is well worth persevering with educating your palate. It is also worth saying that, should you be funny (like I am - I know, wimp) about handling the slithery organs, ask the butcher to remove whatever needs removing, and then you needn't touch them at all. See why not below!

Inspired by an excellent article in Waitrose Food Illustrated interviewing Fergus Henderson, he of St John fame, and a vociferous advocate of 'nose to tail eating', I decided to try Ma Pea's own version of Devilled Kidneys. As Fergus says, rather considerately I think, "Once an animal has been knocked on the head, surely it's only polite to eat it all?". Well, quite.

Starting with the kidneys.
Devilled Kidneys
Serves 2

4 Lambs kidneys, skins removed and chopped into mouthfuls
2 tablespoons flour, seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper and a teaspoon of English mustard powder
Groundnut oil to fry
tsp Gravy Granules
Splash of Sherry
The Perfect Piece of Toast

Put all of your seasoned flour mixture onto an A4 sized piece of tin foil, and plop the kidneys into the middle of the mixture. Coat the kidneys by pulling the foil from either side so that they are rolled around in the mixture in the middle.
Heat the oil in a frying pan on a high heat, and lift the coated kidneys out into the frying pan, moving round in the pan until the kidneys achieve a brown crust. At this stage add your gravy granules and a small dash of water (you can at this stage add some cream and some dijon mustard if you are feeling really swish) and season generously. Once the kidneys are curled but not overcooked, serve them on your buttered toast. Deglaze the pan with a dash of sherry, and pour the decadent mixture over the kidneys and toast.

I feel rather like a squire or a count when I eat this dish - there is something naughty and decadent about it. Offally good show ol' chap. I say. Wot wot.

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