The Nasty Bits: Pork Kidneys

The Nasty Bits

Recipes and stories for everything but the oink.


[Photographs: Chichi Wang]

I will take a gander that this here post will be the last on Serious Eats about the holiday suckling pig that kept on giving. On the night of revelry, there was much crispy skin, crispy ears, crispy snout to be eaten. On the second day, the bones were boiled for a stock so rich and thick that it stood as solid as a rubber eraser when as it cooled. Then there was the rendered fat, which went into the porkiest batch of biscochitos I've tasted. The leftover meat was used in a fashion befitting juicy, tender meat (sandwiches, arepas, soup, you name it.)

The first offering from the pig was the kidneys, pulled out of the carcass prior to roasting. I had never seen kidneys so small or pink; as you can see from the picture, each was no bigger than the size of a spoon, its interior so newly formed that the usual deposits of fat and sinew you must remove from the center of the organ were virtually nonexistent. Sautéed in a little lard, these kidneys were the sweetest and mildest ones I've ever had, so much so that I would have been happy eating them with salt and pepper, nothing more.

But the usual tack I take with kidneys is to cram as much flavor as possible into one bite. The spicier, the tangier, the saltier the flavor, the better to hide the urinous taste of the organ. Do I really like kidneys? Does anyone truly like kidneys? Prove me wrong, but I don't know anyone whose favorite variety cut is kidneys. That said, I would gladly eat kidneys if bequeathed a pair that was fresh and young.


Here is what I do with my kidneys, reminiscent of that Italian pasta dish that rests on four pillars of flavor: garlic, anchovies, capers, and hot chili pepper flakes. Sauté anything in a mixture of these four things and it will taste good. There is even, to my palate, a very special interplay between the organ and the brininess of the anchovies, which would tame all but the most aggressively pungent kidneys. You can add any vegetable you like to the dish, or none at all. (I prefer cabbage-y tasting vegetables, like Brussels sprouts and broccoli.)

Get the Recipe

Sautéed Kidneys with Broccoli, Anchovies, and Chili Pepper »

About the author: Chichi Wang took her degree in philosophy, but decided that writing about food would be much more fun than writing about Plato. She firmly believes in all things offal, the importance of reading great books, and the necessity of three-hour meals. If she were ever to get a tattoo, it would say "Fat is flavor." Visit her blog, The Offal Cook.

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