Barbara Kafka

Kidneys  à la Coq


This title doesn’t mean that I have been searching for miniscule cock kidneys not do I think anybody else should. It is simply that, as I was developing kidney recipes, it occurred to me that they might be delicious cooked in a way that would be much like the French classic, Coq au Vin. I felt freed to tamper as it is almost impossible to get cock. The stronger tasting meat of kidneys would be made to substitute. They would also have the advantage of cooking much more quickly.

I put out sauce spoons; a wheat eating-friend used bread to sop up the luscious, silky sauce. Of course, rice or boiled potatoes would also give a good result.

1 pound lamb kidneys, about 5 large

½ pound medium, yellow onions, quartered and cut across in thin slices (about 1½ cups)

½ pound pleurotussostreatus or ordinary mushrooms, stems or hard bottoms removed, cut into 12-inch strips (about 3 cups)

3 tablespoons canola oil

4 smallish garlic cloves

¼ cup Armagnac or brandy

½ cup chicken or meat stock

½ cup red wine

1 tablespoon corn starch


As always, the longest part is cleaning the kidneys. The large ones that I found required a different manner of cleaning: grab the kidneys one by one by the white part that protrudes. Carefully, slide the tips of sharp kitchen scissors down one side of the white veins gently cutting the meat loose as one proceeds. When one side is complete, rotate the kidney to do the same thing on another side. Keep doing until the veins are attached to the meat at the very bottom. Snip the veins loose. Set kidneys aside. In my case, on a high counter to thwart the dog who seems enchanted by the smell.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a good size saucepan. Add onions and cook, stirring, over medium heat until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until slightly softened. Add garlic and cook about 7 minutes. Add remaining tablespoon of oil. Turn heat to high and add kidneys, stirring until no blood is visible on the surface. In the meantime, heat the brandy in a very small pan until hot. Light with a match and pour over kidneys.

Add stock and red wine. Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes. Stir cornstarch into 1/4 cup of water and then stir into that some of the sauce. Add to sauce and cook until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Do not reheat.
Parsley Puree makes a good partner.

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