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Lamb Kidneys – why (and how) you should eat them!

Last weekend we had the pleasure of meeting the awesome farmers Tim and Liz Young of Nature’s Harmony Farms.  We had placed an order with their Farm Train and met them in Marietta to pick it up.  People like Tim and Liz, that raise good food for others to consume, are my “rock stars” and I had to fight back the temptation to take their picture or ask them to autograph something.  Instead we talked about making stock and what to do with that pig’s head we got from them that is still in my freezer and how most of us have to learn how to properly prepare pastured meat.

Another customer arrived, so we moved on with our purchase of eggs, more pork belly, a stewing chicken, another pork roast and some of their Georgia Gold Clothbound Cheddar Cheese.  I have been pretty much dairy free since I did my 30 Days of Beyond Paleo experiment.  Before the experiment, most of the cheese I was eating was the typical grocery store stuff. But now the only time I indulge in cheese is when it is high quality, and that stuff in the dairy case at the grocery store has lost its appeal.  But this cheese from Tim and Liz is truly delicious.  And the smallest amount satisfies.  I don’t have the desire to consume the whole block like I use to with the cheap stuff!

Another purchase we have made from Tim and Liz is a lamb, and we have just about every part of a lamb there is … rib chops, loin chops, leg of lamb, ground lamb, lamb ribs, kabob meat, spleen, heart, bones, liver and kidneys.  With Ron’s buy in, we agreed to give the kidneys a try.

Now one lamb has exactly two kidneys, unless something is horribly wrong, and one kidney each wasn’t quite enough for a meal, so I also took out a package of lamb rib chops.

And those were simply seared for about 3 minutes on each side with some chopped rosemary…

Now on to the kidneys.  If you are still really squeamish about organ meats, this is the time for you to go look at some cute kitten pictures or something, But seriously, these cuts are from the same animal where the chops came from…they’re not any dirtier or grosser than eating the muscle off of a leg bone or the breast of a chicken.  And if you are OK with eating a hot dog or lunch meat, then lamb kidneys shouldn’t give you the heebie jeebies. You do know what goes in hot dogs, don’t you? Which reminds me of a joke my Dad told me…A man was looking over the menu in a restaurant when the waiter approached and asked if he would care to try the special of the day –  beef tongue?  The man replied “That’s disgusting!!  I don’t want anything that came out of a cow’s mouth.  I’ll just have a couple of eggs.”

Here’s the kidney’s straight out of the package:

There not that bad looking, right?

In some recipes, the kidneys are cooked whole as seen above or even with the suet still intact.  Our butcher had removed the suet before packaging.  But most recipes I have found call for cutting the kidneys in half lengthwise and removing the white centers which is the ureter.  So that is what I did. It will be obvious what you need to remove, however it was a bit of a challenge, only because my knives needed sharpening.  But that was remedied last Saturday when we visited Jones Sharpening at the Marietta Square Farmer’s Market, both of which are highly recommended!

In my search for lamb kidney recipes, I found this site: Sheep’s Creek Farm Lamb Recipes and based on how the kidney recipe turned out, it will be my go to site for the rest of the lamb in the freezer!  The recipe below is a ever so slightly modified version of this one:

2 lamb kidneys
1/8 cup olive oil
a few heavy sprinkles of sea salt
ground fresh pepper
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp dry mustard
a pinch of ground mace
1 Tbs butter
dash of hot sauce
a couple of dashes of wheat free tamari sauce
dash cayenne pepper
juice from 1/4 lemon

Marinate the cleaned kidney halves for at least thirty minutes in the oil, salt, pepper, thyme, mustard and mace.
Preheat broiler.
Broil kidneys for five minutes.
Turn kidneys and brush with a mixture of melted butter, hot sauce, tamari sauce, cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Broil for three more minutes, brush again with butter mixture and remove to hot platter.

Mix the remaining butter mixture with the drippings and pour over the kidneys and serve.

Surprisingly, this dish was Ron’s favorite offal dish so far.  The texture is similar to more familiar muscle cuts, although “creamier”, and not “grainy” which is something he doesn’t like about liver.  The flavor was outstanding and Ron actually enjoyed the kidneys more than the chops!  I loved them both.

But it’s not just about taste.  For us it’s about many other things, with the most important factor being how to best fuel our bodies.  So just how does lamb kidney stack up to America’s favorite “low fat” meat cut…the chicken breast?

According to the USDA, 100 grams of braised lamb kidney and 100 grams of roasted chicken breast both have 3 grams of fat, but the chicken has 31 grams protein while the kidney only has 23.  The chicken breast has 165 calories and the lamb kidney has 137 calories, which isn’t a significant difference*.  Now the vitamin and mineral content is a different story.  Chicken has more B3 (Niacin) and B6 and a tiny bit of Vitamin E, but the lamb wins in the categories of Vitamin A, Folate,  B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B5, B12 (that’s a lot of B12!!) and Vitamin C.

Now let’s look at the minerals.  Chicken has a slight advantage in the level of magnesium and squeaks out a win with potassium, but lamb is the winner when it comes to copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, zinc and has slightly more calcium as well.

Still not convinced?  Well, lets take another look at the fat.   The chicken is loaded with Omega 6, the fat that most people get far too much of, while the lamb has the ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3.  If you want to know more about the omega fats, and the consequences of excessive omega 6, Julianne Taylor has it well covered in her post, “Omega 6 and 3 in nuts, oils, meat and fish. Tools to get it right.”  And she has links to several other articles and blogs on the subject.

Less calories, better fat , more vitamins and minerals and just as tasty as lamb chops.  And if you can find them, like most organ meats, they are probably fairly inexpensive.  So go ahead and give kidneys a chance.  You will most likely be pleasantly surprised!

* If you find these numbers a bit confusing, you have company.  How can the USDA state that 100 gram of two different foods with the same amount of fat and carbs have different amounts of protein? If I’m missing something here, I would love for you to set me straight.  But this just doesn’t compute for me. 

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11 Responses to Lamb Kidneys – why (and how) you should eat them!

  1. goatsandgreens July 21, 2011 at 1:54 am #

    Thanks for the kidney recipe! I have cooked lamb kidneys before, but alas didn’t track what I did with them at that time. I’ll keep your ideas in mind for future ventures. Seriously, thanks! Total agreement regards their nutritional value.

  2. Jos August 4, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    I am not a big fan of organ meat because probably the taste, but I remember I had chicken hearts and intestines way back when I was in Asia. Since I can’t get pastured raised meat from where I live, I’d steer clear from any organ meats for now and stick to lean cut conventional meat :)

    Anyway, this is an interesting post, Patty.

    Also I tagged you for a blog award. Come and join in if you’re interested :)

  3. Jenn November 30, 2011 at 5:18 am #

    This recipe looks fantastic! I am new to offal, do you think this recipe would be good for pork kidneys as well?

  4. Patty November 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    Thanks Jenn! I think it would work for pork, but from what I have read pork kidney’s have a stronger taste/smell, so you may want to marinade them longer, especially since they are larger. Good luck!

  5. Joy Zimmer November 8, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

    Born in Gt. Britain I was raised eating “Steak and Kidney Pie”, a wonderful, flavorful, delicious dish. However, since coming to the States I have a hard time even finding lamb kidneys, most grocery stores do not carry them. Can these be ordered – I live in South Carolina – would they ship well? I would love to make a steak and kidney pie!

    Thanks, Joy

  6. Patty November 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Hi Joy, isn’t it sad? I honestly don’t think I’ve seen kidney in a grocery store in my life. I’ve recently ordered some from U.S. Wellness Meats and we’re NW of Atlanta, and they arrived just fine! I envy the quality of meats and variety of cuts available in your homeland!

  7. Susan February 12, 2013 at 3:19 am #

    Born in New Zealand, I also was raised eating ‘Steak and Kidney Pie’, kidneys and bacon on toast etc and love the rich taste. I have looked everywhere here in Seattle and not seen any, other offal but no kidneys. I am hoping my supermarket will special order them, or plan B, waiting to hear back from the local butcher. If they do come through with the goods, I’ll be in ‘heaven!’

  8. Patty February 12, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    Keeping my fingers crossed for you Joy! If plan A and plan B fall through, U.S. Wellness Meats ships to Seattle and they’ll will treat you right.

  9. wini mckinney September 17, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    I ALSO GREW UP ON STEAK AND KIDNEY PIE ( WHICH i LOVE TO THIS DAY BUT CANT GET IT UNLESS i MAKE IT AND i AM A TERRIBLE COOK) also I would love to get information on TRIPE,SHAD ROE,FINANHADDIE and old fashioned recipes etc. like that with those ingrediants

  10. Patty September 17, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    Hey Wini, I think you will find some of those kids of recipes on this blog:

    We also link to quite a few offal recipes on Stalkerville:

    And I bet you’re not so terrible of a cook…just need to keep at it! :)


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