I bought some lamb’s kidneys this week for a different dish, but they were so cheap that I bought extra to make Riñones al Jerez – kidneys with sherry. Kidneys are nowhere near as popular in the UK as they used to be, but you will still find devilled kidneys and steak and kidney pie (or pudding) on restaurant menus. There should be no problem in finding kidneys in butchers shops and supermarkets. In Spain Riñones al Jerez is a classic dish that can be found in most bars and restaurants. Other types of kidney are also used for this, such as calf or pig.
The kidney’s function is to clean toxins from the blood, producing urine. Therefore, some can have a strong undesirable smell or taste. Lamb’s kidneys are quite mild, but it’s common to soak all types in a saline solution or milk to “improve” them.
Riñones al Jerez:
8 – 10 lamb’s kidneys
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
a level dessertspoon plain flour
2 dessertspoons chicken stock
1/2 glass Fino sherry
a splash of sherry vinegar
fresh parsley (finely chopped)
a knob of butter
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
Peel the outer membrane from the kidneys (this is easy), then cut in half and remove the white fatty core (a good butcher will do this for you). Cut in half again, so you have 4 pieces, or chop finer as you see fit.
If you wish, soak the kidneys in 500ml salty water, with 50ml of white wine vinegar for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
Brown the kidneys in extra virgin olive oil and remove to a plate. They almost look like mushrooms and I was tempted to mix the two, but champiñones al ajillo (mushrooms with garlic and parsley) is a perfect tapa in it’s own right and can be served alongside this.
Gently poach (sofreír) the onion in extra virgin olive oil and a knob of butter. Some recipes eschew the onion, but when cooked slowly, it almost melts into the sauce.
When the onion becomes soft and sticky, add the garlic and kidneys, but discard any oil/liquid left on the kidney plate. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes.
Stir in the flour to make a roux and add the stock.
Sprinkle with parsley.
Pour on the sherry. Allow to bubble and reduce for a few minutes and season to taste. Add a little splash of sherry vinegar just before serving.
Riñones al Jerez is an excellent tapa or even first course – serve with a little more parsley on top and a glass of Fino sherry. Fino is drunk chilled as a refreshing aperitif and often enjoyed with salty almonds or Jamón Iberico. It is a crisp, dry sherry, aged for at least 2 years in oak barrels and normally between 7 – 10 years in total. In Spain, a decent Fino will cost about the same price as a reasonable bottle of wine.