Today I went to the local market to buy fresh pork kidney. Let’s make this clear. I am on a diet. But no matter how I stick with my rules, the temptation of tasting good food still rules.
I was told by the Swedish Chef, this is one of his favorite offal recipes. You can also use other variety meats (beef,veal,lamb,pork,ox). Today I am tasked to execute and deliver the same quality of cooking to the table in twenty minutes. So with a sharp knife, a bowl and kitchen scissors I went through the preparation very carefully. No this is not for an episode of a MasterChef cooking show. It’s for tonight’s dinner and I only have twenty minutes to plate and serve Pork Kidney and Bacon in Cream Sauce
“Clean kidney” was the first instruction I was told. I used two pieces pork kidney, approximately 300 gms. It may sound simple, but requires accuracy and skill with the kitchen tools. It’s like doodling with a pen, but this time I used a knife. I peeled the white membrane on the outside, sliced and removed the white membrane inside. I gently poked using kitchen scissors to make sure every white tendon is cut and cleaned. Then I soaked the slices in salted water for thirty minutes, changed water and soaked again until water became clear. Next step is soaking the kidney slices in milk for two to three hours. The Swedish Chef said this will remove the remaining residue and kidney scent. I wondered how much patience is required of me with this recipe?
After three hours, I took the kidney out of the fridge. The slices looked pampered soaking in milk. “Wash and drain again before slicing them into smaller pieces,” said the Swedish Chef. ” But not too small or they become gummy, not unless you will cook them in lesser time.”
I stopped chopping the meat and stared in mid air trying to calculate in my mind how cooking smaller pieces of meat makes them gummy and not tender. Now that is quite opposite with the method of cooking I am used to. But as good as a sous chef should be, I followed his advice.
“Score in crisscross pattern the smooth side of kidney slices and dice into smaller 1 inch pieces,” he called out his instructions from his side of the kitchen. Finally after the crisscrossing and slicing I have about 1 cup of prepared fresh kidney.
“Set aside kidney and let us prepare other ingredients. ” the Swedish Chef calling out the ingredients like we are checking a military roster.
“2 tbsp butter?” he asked.
“1 medium onion, finely chopped?” he checked.
“1/2 cup chopped bacon?” he bellowed.
“Salt and pepper to taste, half teaspoon of tarragon leaves, and half cup of cooking cream?” he echoed as I handed the last ingredients.
“Yes Chef!” I answered. Sheepishly I looked at the clock as I set my mind into my twenty minute task. “And my time starts..now.”
“Heat skillet and melt butter. Saute onion and bacon for 3-5 min. Add the kidney and cook over low heat for another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour cream and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until sauce thickens. Sprinkle tarragon leaves. Simmer over low heat for last 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent curdling or overcooking. Turn off heat and plate. Do not overcook.Serve with rice, fried potatoes or toast.”
I thought I heard myself giving a twenty-minute monologue to the stove. After the cooking, the Swedish Chef suggested, “Next time we cook sweetbread.”
“Trust the kitchen expert. He knows what he is talking about,” I said to myself.
And then a funny thought just hit me. “I wonder if free range herbivore dinosaur was also a good variety meat for the cavemen.” Yep, Grandma Glasses and her bizarre ideas strikes again.