Grilled Whole Lamb Kidneys with Potato Pancakes

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I first saw lamb kidneys still entirely enveloped in their own fat in Solliès-Toucas, in the south of France, in a butcher shop run by the Mutton sisters. I asked Richard Olney how they were cooked. We had them for lunch that day. Though simple, they are quite remarkable and are having a revival in smart Parisian restaurants today.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole lamb kidneys, very fresh and still encased in fat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Method

Trim the fat evenly on the kidneys so that it is 1 inch thick all around each kidney. Rub them with the olive oil and press the fresh thyme into the fat. Let marinate for 1 hour.

Peel the potatoes and either grate them in a mill or julienne them in a food processor. Rinse the cut potatoes in cold water, wring them dry in a towel, and form them into 4 6-inch pancakes, ¼ inch thick, on waxed paper squares. Refrigerate.

Season the kidneys and cook them in a heavy frying pan or casserole over medium heat for 15 minutes, turning them often to brown the fat slightly. Turn the heat down to very low and continue to cook, turning often, until the kidneys are still just barely pink inside, about 30 minutes. You will have to cut into one to test for doneness. Let the kidneys rest while you cook the potatoes.

Use ½ tablespoon butter in each of 4 crêpe pans and heat over medium-low heat for 30 seconds. Put the potato pancakes in the pans and cook for 10 minutes, making sure that the pancakes slide around the pans from the first minute. Turn or flip the pancakes and cook on the other side for 5 minutes. If you don’t have 4 pans to use at once, cook the pancakes one at a time and keep warm in the oven. Put the pancakes on hot plates and the kidneys in the center of the pancakes. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve.

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