Since normally on Mondays I share recipes, I thought I would share today an experience that failed in my kitchen. Miserably.
My husband had been in the meat section of the grocery store while I was gathering supplies for baking Christmas cookies.
When he saw the Beef Kidneys, he brought them to me and asked "What do you think about this?" which I took to mean "I challenge you to cook this for me, oh dear sweet creative Polish wife of mine who can make even lowly Chicken Livers a culinary delight for me to enjoy with relish."
That was not what he meant, apparently. He meant, "What do you think? Is this edible? Yes? No? I can put it back, it's not a problem."
I did not, however, hear his true meaning as I eyeballed the kidneys.
My mind raced and I thought, "Offal, hmmmm, I bet this is as easy to cook and as delicious as liver. Yes! I accept your challenge!" as I asked him to buy another kidney so that we could have more of this potential delicacy to enjoy once I was done lovingly and painstakingly preparing it for my family.
Before you scoff, I have had kidney before. I remember it being soft and delicious. I assumed it to have been Beef Kidney.
When we went home, I dug through my cookbooks and referenced several websites to be sure that I would prepare it correctly.
I sliced the kidneys in half and was met with a very faint smell of urine but shrugged it off since I figured the next couple of steps would correct that. I then soaked them for an hour in cool water.
In the meantime, I shared the photo on my Facebook and Twitter feed.
The reactions on Facebook were priceless:
- Perhaps I was making galaretka (oh, how I now wish that was what I had made)
- "Looks yummy! what is it?" & upon finding out what it was - "ok...I just threw up a little. It looks like a cream cheese, raspberry danish thingy? I was way off."
- "It looks scary!!!"
- "so there used to be cow pee in those things? oh my."
- "What is the white s*** in the middle?" and a friends reply "the creamy nougat center?"
I rolled my sleeves up and got to work. After all, I have tackled various cooking challenges before that should have been flops and turned out marvelous. How hard could this be?
I boiled some water (first error, I should have placed the kidneys in cold water and brought them to a low boil) and placed them in for several minutes.
The house quickly took on a strong smell. According to my husband it smelled like, "*gag* Fells Point Alley at 3 am! *gag*" and he ran quickly to the garage to call friends and family so that he could describe the horror that was our house.
The children ran for cover and hugged one another in a corner far from the kitchen.
I opened the windows, turned off the burner and proceeded to pour the urine water down the sinks drain while heaving into the double sink myself. My glasses had fogged up from the steam and it made me more ill thinking that I would have to wash my glasses well after this. I poured what might have been a cup full of lavender scented all natural dish detergent down the drain and ran more water, hoping and praying that the smell would go down the drain.
I lit 2 sticks of incense and looked at the now shriveled kidneys at the bottom of the pot. The smell from them was no better.
I removed them from the pot, scrubbed the pot out well and placed them back in with more fresh clear water. I then brought them back to a boil...
The smell was no better. My husband again gagged and ran away and my children cowered together in a corner. I am fairly certain I have scarred them for life.
Everywhere I read about preparing Beef Kidneys said that it would take between 2 and 4 boils to eliminate the smell.
On the fourth boil, my father came in after work to visit us and promptly called "What are you killing?!"
When I frantically tried to explain to him what I was doing, he gave me a pearl of true cooking wisdom. Several, actually.
My Tato on Beef Kidneys:
- Beef Kidneys are the most difficult meat to cook
- Why didn't I call him? He would have told me to soak them overnight in milk first.
- Why didn't I call my Babcia? She used to make them often and he enjoyed it and it did not taste like urine.
- When I placed them in boiling water the first time, I had essentially sealed in the urine
I placed the kidneys in milk while I washed the pot again and filled it with water. The milk they were in soured within two minutes.
After the fifth boil, everyone thanked God that I had also decided to make Mushroom soup for dinner.
My fears of having scarred my children for life was affirmed when my older daughter covered her mouth as I lovingly ladled the soup into her bowl. Her eyes wide, one finger madly pointing, she wailed "You aren't going to feed us PEE ZUPA, are you Mama!?"
I told her it was Mushroom soup that Mama had made besides this as a just in case and she relaxed visibly. While the children ate, she told me "This tastes much better than Pee Zupa, Mama."
I sliced up the Beef Kidneys, submerged them in milk and placed them in the refrigerator. My kind husband threw them away the next day. Airing out the house at the beginning of a Midwest Winter for several hours due to an overwhelming urine smell was apparently enough for him the first day.
I called my Babcia the next day asking for advise. She informed me that she never cooked Beef Kidneys because the urine smell was just too much. When meat was scarce during Communism, veal kidneys were often on the food cards so she made those and they were delicious. But it was still not easy to cook them even though they were very mild compared to beef kidneys.
I learned my lesson that day. I had been bested by the Beef Kidneys and I don't intend on trying it again. The Beef Kidneys won.
I know that this will go down in our family history as The Great Beef Kidney Disaster of 2011...
Have you ever cooked something that was a complete nightmare? Did you try again?
Related Posts (Just to prove that I can cook):
My First Plum Cake Ever
Zupa Ogonowa or Oxtail Soup