Deviled Kidneys

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Deviled kidneys with toasted bread
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I know, I know, deviled kidneys. Ew, right? Actually no. If you learn one kidney recipe, and especially just one venison kidney recipe, this is it.

Allow me to explain.

So, deviled kidneys are a British thing, and I know for many of you that’s not a ringing endorsement. But this dish is different. It’s a bit spicy, from a pinch of cayenne and mustard, gets a punch from Worcestershire sauce, and some backbone from sauteed mushrooms. I can almost guarantee that if you make this, you will no longer be a kidney hater.

My version of deviled kidneys owes a lot to one of my culinary inspirations: the great Chef Fergus Henderson of St. John in London. A rendition of this recipe done with lamb appears in his excellent book The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating. If only I could cook for Fergus someday…

I understand that most people don’t have lots of venison kidneys lying around, so this recipe reflects that. But if you do have, say, eight to ten kidneys, just scale up this recipe. Lamb kidneys work every bit as well. I am not a fan of beef kidneys, but pig kidneys will work if that’s what you have.

Start with obtaining kidneys. Each animal has two, and they’ll be in the gut pile. If you are buying your kidneys, you’ll likely need to order them from a butcher. Sometimes Latin and Asian markets carry them.

Once you have some, peel the gossamer membrane that surrounds the kidneys like shrink wrap. Now slice them in half, lengthwise. You’ll see a bunch of white tissue in the center. I tend to remove this with a paring knife, but it’s not strictly necessary.

What is necessary, at least to me, is to soak any animal’s kidneys in milk for a day before doing this recipe, as it makes them taste milder. And if you are a kidney rookie, you might want to rinse them off after that milk soak and submerge them in brine for another day. But you can skip all this if you want.

I am a big fan of mushrooms with kidneys—it’s a texture thing. I prefer the mighty porcini mushroom here, but any good, fresh mushroom will do, even buttons.

Serve your kidneys on excellent toast. A pale ale or even a porter would be perfect with this, as would a nice red wine.

deviled kidneys recipe
4.85 from 13 votes

Deviled Kidneys

As I mention above, I prefer to use deer kidneys here, but lamb or pork kidneys also work well. And if you had a lot of little rabbit kidneys, they'd work, too. This dish is best served immediately after making it.
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: British
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients 

  • ½ pound fresh mushrooms, cut into large-ish pieces (optional)
  • 2 to 4 deer kidneys
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard, Coleman’s if you can get it
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chicken, venison or beef stock

Instructions 

  • Clean and trim the kidneys as above. Cut each half into 3 or 4 pieces. If you are using the mushrooms, sear them in a hot pan with 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter until nicely browned on their edges. Remove them and set aside for the moment.
  • Mix the flour with the cayenne, mustard, salt, and black pepper, and dust the kidneys with it.
  • Get the pan very hot, then add 3 more tablespoons of butter. Brown the kidneys in the butter. You may need to press them down with a spatula, as they will want to arch upwards. Turn and cook another minute or two. Remove them and cut into pieces you’d like to eat.
  • Return the kidneys and the mushrooms to the pan and add a big splash of Worcestershire and the stock, and shake the pan to meld everything together. Let this cook for a minute or two.
  • Remove the kidneys and mushrooms and set them on top of your toast and boil down the sauce for a few minutes—don’t let it boil completely away—then pour it over everything and serve.

Notes

Note that the prep time doesn't include kidney soaking time. 

Nutrition

Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 591mg | Potassium: 200mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 733IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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25 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness. I’d never tried kidneys but I LOVE liver and heart, so I thought I’d give this a go. I had 6 frozen kidneys from some lambs we processed last fall. I’m not sure if because they were grass fed, but these smelled exceptionally lamb-y from the start. I actually soaked them for a day and a half in milk and then half a day in brine. They were mellower after that, but still pretty pungent. I followed the recipe but I just could not eat the meat. It is definitely an acquired taste. However, I salvaged the mushrooms and those were very yummy. I will try this recipe again with liver, but lamb kidneys will hence forth be dogs treats.

  2. Devilled kidneys are food of the gods, even if they are a “British thing”. Food wise, that should be a plus!
    What weight would 2-4 deer kidneys be? While we do not have deer were I live, I can order them but the size is obviously differs between species. I will use lamb, so a weight would be helpful.

  3. I made this with rabbit kidneys- excellent! I only had 7 rabbits worth, so we added extra mushrooms and served over rice. It’s a keeper recipe. Thanks!

  4. I don’t buy premade kidney pie etc because of the lingering odour. With fresh beef kidney, you need to soak them in PLAIN water, so any residue will be drawn out by osmosis. You might want to do it twice. (Beef kidney also different in that it’s a huge bundle of mini-kidneys that you will separate and halve/core individually)

    1. That’s interesting! I just bought beef kidneys and I have no idea what to do with them. Going to try this recipe first.

  5. Wowza…. Found this recipe and tried it!!!! It was so tasty!!! My husband said he would never try it. I made this and served over garlic toast and he loved! We paired it with a nice bold Italian Amarone wine!!! What a beautiful meal! Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. This is my first time commenting on any online recipe ever. Yay! Thanks for posting the recipe. It’s been difficult to find good offal recipes, and my partner and I thought this was delicious. I made a few changes: subbed carrots for Shrooms, and calf kidney for deer kidney as that’s all that was available. I also halved the recipe. It was my first time trying — and cooking —kidney. Tip: my partner has cooked kidney before and told me it smelled awfully of pee when he did. I found a tip from a chef suggesting to cut out and discard the white stuff in the center of the kidney. I have it to my cat, and he loved it. Having removed that, it did not smell of urine upon cooking the kidney.

    1. Hi,
      I love the title of your website! I just bought some beef kidneys (haven’t cooked it yet) and was excited to cook it, until I read that you’re not fond of them, and was wondering why? Is there a difference in the quality or the texture of different animal kidneys that I should be aware of. Thank you.

      1. Dallas: Beef kidneys are stronger tasting. But if you do the soak, in brine then in milk, you’ll be OK. If you grew up eating kidneys, then you may not need the soak, but I find that it tames things a lot.

    1. Agreed, let’s try and move on from an outdated belief founded on GIs impressions on food in a Britain with severe rationing in WW2!

  7. Could you do something similar to this recipe with chicken kidneys? The idea of it sounds great but, I do not have access to deer kidneys.

    1. Leah: I have no idea, but I am thinking no. Bird kidneys are not a distinct organ — they are nestled into bone and cannot be removed as one piece. I’d stick to mammals here.

  8. Hank,

    Do deer kidneys tend to be heavily parasitized or are they generally safe without freezing? And if I am going to freeze my kidneys so that I can collect a larger pile, should I soak/brine before freezing, or afterward?

    1. Dan: I’ve never heard of kidneys being parasitized, but it’s worth looking into. I’ve never seen anything odd with those I’ve cooked, and I have cooked them fresh and thawed.

  9. OMG, thank you so much for this recipe! I was gifted a pile of lamb kidneys. I have already halved and cleaned them but couldn’t find a recipe that made sense. I vacuum packed them and now I can release them from the freezer. Yay!

  10. Ah..no. I have tried kidneys several times. Made at home. At nice bistros and grilled over charcoal. I even tried the deviled kidneys recipe from the mighty fergus you reference. They remain one of the few (maybe only) thing I do not eat. I’ve given up on them. They taste pee-ish no matter what is done to them. Sorry Hank!

  11. Definitely going to give this a try. My wife and I both love venison liver so this may fit right in. Now time to hunt!

  12. If only I could convince my wife to eat game. I only get to cook it when she isn’t away. Loved kidneys over egg noodles as a kid, will definitely do this!