Devilled Kidneys

devilled kidney

Devilled meats became very popular in Victorian England – possibly to disguise poor quality food. The process involves marinating the meat with hot spices before cooking and typically includes cayenne pepper, English mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Devilled kidneys were a very common breakfast, still served today, though they’ve since been elevated to the supper menu.

Devilling can be traced back to the Romans, who served spiced boiled eggs as a starter (recorded in Apicius). The more modern deviled egg, where the boiled yolk is mashed and mixed with spices, before being reunited in the hollow of the white, dates back to an anonymous Andalusian recipe book from 13th Century – pound boiled egg yolks with cilantro, onion juice, and pepper, then beat them with murri (a sauce made of fermented barley or fish), oil and salt. Today we might be more inclined to mash the yolk with mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, paprika or Tabasco, but the principle remains the same.

lamb’s kidneys

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. When develling kidneys there’s no need to soak them in brine or milk beforehand – the overwhelming taste here is satan and he won’t let you down!

Devilled Kidney recipe:

1 or 2 lamb’s kidneys (per person)
2 dessertspoons plain flour
1/2 teaspoon Colman’s mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 mashed anchovies or a large squirt of anchovy paste
a splash sherry vinegar
a splash of chicken stock
ground sea salt and cracked black pepper
a knob salted butter
a slice of toast (or fried bread) per kidney
chopped parsley to serve

Rinse the kidneys under a cold tap and pat dry with some kitchen towel. They normally come with a very thin film around them which is quite easy to peel off. Sometimes, like today, you will find that the butcher has already done this for you. Cut each kidney in half, as per the picture below. Cut out the white fatty core and discard it.

butterflied kidney

Combine the dry develling ingredients and flour in a bag or bowl.


Get a frying pan very hot then melt a knob of butter in it. Introduce the kidney halves to the devil and give them a light dusting.


Fry the kidneys for 2 minutes or so per side. Don’t overdo it, they should be slightly pink inside when served.


Remove to a warm plate, put the toast on and add Worcestershire sauce, mashed anchovies, chicken stock and sherry vinegar to the pan. Be careful not to let the juices evaporate – add more butter if necessary. Butter the toast, put the kidneys on top, pour on the juice from the pan and sprinkle with chopped parsley. The kidney will be extremely tender and the umami in the sauce will have you craving more. Don’t try to convert the kidney phobic – these are too good to share!

Since this is a breakfast dish, I recommend serving it with a nice cup of tea!

…and an alternative recipe.

devilled kidneys with mushrooms and garlic

Devilled kidneys with Mushrooms recipe (serves 2 or 3 people):

4 or 5 lamb’s kidneys (quartered)
6 closed cup mushrooms (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 dessertspoons plain flour
1/2 teaspoon Colman’s mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon pimetón de la Vera dulce
1 teaspoon Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 mashed anchovies or a large squirt of anchovy paste
a cup of chicken stock
a splash sherry vinegar
ground sea salt and cracked black pepper
a knob goose fat or lard
chopped parsley to serve

Prepare the kidneys as per the first recipe above, then cut them into quarters.

frying kidneys

Dust the kidneys in devilled flour,

fried kidneys

flash fry them in hot goose fat and reserve.

mushrooms and garlic

Fry the mushrooms with garlic and when they’ve become moist, add Worcestershire sauce, the mashed anchovies, chicken stock and sherry vinegar.


Allow the liquid to reduce. Return the kidneys at the end –  just warm them through, don’t overcook them or they will become rubbery.

fried potatoes

Sprinkle with parsley and serve as a tapa or with fried potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

I recommend drinking a glass of Casillero del Diablo tempranillo with your devilled kidneys and mushrooms.

See also: Devilled Pheasant.

About Mad Dog
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6 Responses to Devilled Kidneys

  1. jake90uk says:

    I had forgotten about devilled kidneys! Thanks for reminding me and for the recipes. Looking forward to trying these!

  2. Sounds tasty, MD! If you’ve read my latest screed, you’ll know that kidneys and offal in general have more or less disappeared from mainstream supermarkets here in the US. But you can still find them in Asian and Latino markets. I may give this a go. It’s been a while since I’ve had kidneys, and I do enjoy them. Have you had them “trifolati”? Also very nice

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Frank, the devilled kidneys on toast with a drizzle of sauce are to die for! I was going to cook lamb kidneys last week, but nobody had any. Perhaps it was a hiccup in the supply chain. I could however have bough pork kidneys and I saw some fabulous ox kidneys attached to suet. I get very cross about the influence of supermarkets. Even the French have fallen in love with them and many of their beautiful old markets have closed. I will try your trifolati – it’s a bit like Spanish champiñones al ajillo, but with a chilli kick.

  3. I have to admit I’ve never had kidneys but that final pic with the mushrooms makes them look oh so fabulous!!


    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Mollie – they are very common in the UK cooked in a steak and kidney pie (or pudding) and cooked with sherry, in Spain. My mushroom recipe is a combination of two Spanish dishes, Riñones al Jerez and Champiñones al Ajillo (mushrooms with garlic).
      Kidneys can have a strong flavour (lamb is probably the mildest), but the devilled kidney is all about hot spices and delicious drizzle of umami sauce combined with a texture that is like a mushroom or tender octopus.

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