Lamb’s Kidneys In Their Suet

Lamb’s kidneys still in their suet should not be a problem for your butcher to arrange.  If there are large amounts of suet, trim it down but try not to expose the actual kidney.  I think two kidneys per person.

Firstly, I hope you and yours had a great Thanksgiving (if you celebrated it).

Secondly, today marks the one year anniversary of this website. I just realized that one year was creeping up after seeing Hank celebrate his anniversary over at my favorite food blog.  I started writing a list of all the amazing people I’ve talked to, and things I’ve done, but it ended up being way too long to post.  I just want to say thank you to everyone.  To my friends, my family, and people that are kind enough to read this site–I appreciate you all more than words can express.

Last weekend, I ended up driving to Dallas for two things–an amazing Veracruzan seafood feast with the good people at DallasFood.org.  I met up with my friend Sharon Peters, “the human encyclopedia of Mexican cooking” and we made another pilgrimage to Zituna World Food Market in Richardson, TX.  This time, I picked up enough lamb brains to finish off the last recipe for them, a leg of mutton–which is terribly tough to find, let me tell you–and these kidneys encased in suet.

I got a cast iron skillet nice and hot, and then added a very small amount of olive oil to the pan.  As the first wisps of smoke rose up, I seasoned the kidneys heavily with salt and pepper, and dropped them in to brown.  Once that was accomplished, I placed the pan into a hot oven for a few minutes.

After I removed the finished kidneys from the oven, I let them rest for a little bit.  A few quick cuts, and I had finished the dish.

The kidney slices were salty and crispy on the outside, with a lovely melting middle with the meaty kidney at the core.  The kidney itself tasted strongly of lamb, with no real flavor of urea to speak of.  This would make a very nice starter, or with more kidneys a light lunch.  This is a wonderfully simple and delicious recipe, and I look forward to making it again.

One down, ninety two to go.

Roast Bone Marrow And Parsley Salad

This is the one dish that does not change on the menu at St. John.  The marrowbone comes from a calf’s leg; ask your butcher to keep some for you.  You will need teaspoons or long thin implements to scrape your marrow out of the bone at the table.

Do you recall eating Raisin Bran for breakfast?  The raisin-to-bran-flake ratio was always a huge anxiety, to a point, sometimes, that one was tempted to add extra raisins, which inevitably resulted in too many raisins, and one lost that pleasure of discovering the occasional sweet chewiness in contrast to the branny crunch.  When administering such things as capers, it is very good to remember Raisin Bran.

I wanted to post a quick link to my friend Laura William’s foodie/cartoon/artistic/blog.  I think I could add a few more descriptive words, but I suppose you’ve already gotten the gist.  She’s just as crazy about food as I am, if not more.  Now that I think about it, I’d go with more.  Here’s a link to her Flickr page to prove my point. I’m hoping to have her help me with some of the dessert recipes from the cookbook in the future.  I’m going to need her expertise with pastries to make up for my sad lack of ability.

So, here we are–Anthony Bourdain’s death row meal.  I had actively been looking for marrow bones to make this recipe for quite a while now.  I should have been paying attention the multiple times I walked through the Asian market, because sure enough, they have big bags of beef bones for purchase.

What I needed to do to the bone marrow can be summed up in a haiku:

marrow on the pan
into a nice hot oven
crusty top means done

Okay, that’s not a very good haiku.  I won’t inflict that on you again, I promise, but it is accurate.  After twenty minutes in the oven all of the bone segments had nice crusty tops.  Mr. Henderson mentions that if the marrow is left in the oven too long, it can all melt away, which made me peek in the oven pretty much every 3 minutes.

In between peeks, I made a quick salad of parsley leaves, very thin sliced shallots, and capers.  Keeping to the Raisin Bran advice above, I made sure to use the capers sparingly.  Right before I served the marrow, I added a simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing.

With some toasted bread, the dish was finished.  I’ll let Mr. Henderson explain the eating process.

My approach is to scrape the marrow from the bone onto the toast and season with coarse sea salt.  Then a pinch of parsley salad on top of this and eat.

The first bite after following these instructions was just…  wow.  Fatty, salty, briney, peppery goodness all on a piece of toast.  This is supposed to be a starter, right?  Well, it ended up being dinner instead.  A very large dinner.  We used a half a loaf of french bread.  And all of the marrow.

Don’t judge me.

One down, ninety three to go.

Radishes To Accompany Duck Or Goose

The fresh, peppery radishes make a perfect foil for the rich birds.

I know, I know.  Radishes are the best in the spring.  I just wanted to have duck, and it had been so long since I had radishes that I decided to just buy the radishes that were available at my local Megamart.  Cut me a little slack, please?

To make the radishes I needed some duck fat, so I scored the skin on these duck legs–poorly, might I add–and browned them all over before sticking them in a hot oven to finish them and to crisp the skin.

In the mean time, I separated the radishes from the leaves, carefully washing both.  Once the duck had finished cooking, I set the legs aside in a warm place and popped the little red bulbs into the oh-so wonderful rendered duck fat.  I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I believe that duck fat to be the most delicious thing on the planet.  For five minutes, I moved the radishes around, watching them change slowly from red to pink.

After the five minutes had elapsed, I added the leaves to the pan and a bit of salt and pepper.  The leaves wilted from the carry over heat just as they were plated.  I added some extra fat on the plate for bread sopping.  I really do love duck fat.

The radishes were wonderfully crunchy, peppery, and great with the duck legs.  I do believe that I’ve gained a new appreciation for the little fellows.

One down, ninety four to go.

Kid And Fennel

The lady who supplies much of our goat cheese has to slaughter a certain number of the young goats (kids) each year to keep her herd within manageable numbers, much to our delight, as the flesh is delicious, having youth on its side.

One hind leg of kid will vary in size and can feed from two to three to sometimes four.  I have to leave you to judge your leg and your appetite.

A quick note before I start the update:  I neglected to mention that Carol over at French Laundry at Home posted her last update on purpose.  I hate seeing wonderful things come to an end, but I finally decided that I really needed to say something.

Carol, thank you.  I’m coming up on one year of writing for this website.  Never, never, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d actually start a blog and actually stick with it.  You’ve really inspired me with your incredibly witty, funny, and touching writing.  So, again, thank you.  You have changed my life in a small, but significant way.

Most people are already aware of Carol’s new endeavor, Alinea At Home.  Well, she’s just posted her first update and whipped out a TMNT reference in the first paragraph.  That’s why she’s the best, people.

Dumb luck struck again, as I was able to find not just a leg of kid, but a leg and some of the ribs, and something special…

Under all that fat is a kidney!  I’ve grown very fond of kidneys after making the Deviled Kidneys back in April.  This was set to be the amuse bouche for the evening.

But before I could start on the kidney, I needed to start browning the leg.  In a large pan I heated a big splash of olive oil until it just started to smoke, and then placed the leg in.  Once it was properly browned I placed it in an oven proof dish.  Since I was a bit unsure of what to do with the left over rib meat, I decided to brown it as well and just cook it with the leg.

In the same pan, I sweated three sliced fennel bulbs, a dozen shallots and a dozen cloves of garlic.  Mr. Henderson explicitly asks for no browning, so I diligently checked the pan’s contents as they cooked.

At this point, I realized that I had forgot to pick up some pernod, which the recipe calls for.  Dumb luck again was on my side, as a quick google search informed me that I had a perfect substitute already.

Pernod is actually a successor of absinthe, the potent liquor that contained a toxic oil from wormwood in quantities that were thought to cause brain damage — and which was outlawed in 1915 in France. One of absinthe’s leading manufacturers, Henri Pernod, then focused its efforts on the lower-alcohol, wormwoodless, anise-flavored Pernod.

So, I ended up subbing the original for the substitute.  I seriously doubt that will ever happen again, regardless of how long I end up cooking.

Into the pan with the kid and the vegetables went a bouquet garni, the absinthe, a cup of white wine, and some chicken stock.  Braising is the name of the game for this dish, and I’m always down for a good braise.  The pan was placed in a very hot oven for 20 minutes, then I dropped the heat down a bit for the next two hours.

While I waited on the leg, my attentions returned to the goat kidney.  I decided to pan fry it, and season it simply with salt and pepper.  Fatty, tender, and delicious with a gamey flavor.  It was a great start to the meal.

And here’s the finished dish.  The flavor was very similar to lamb, which surprised me for some reason.  The meat was exceptionally tender, and the fennel and shallots just melted in my mouth.  I’m determined to find a reliable source for kid, because I’ve found a new favorite recipe.

One down, ninety five to go.