It's been a while since I blogged on here and it's also been a while since I've had kidney. It's also the first time I've ever done kidney on the barbecue, and I was a little apprehensive as it isn't something you see a lot of.
I started by marinating them in some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and some fresh tarragon. I haven't seen tarragon used a lot with lamb or kidneys but I thought the sweetness would complement the lamb with the fragrance offsetting the rather strong 'gamey' flavour of the kidneys.
After letting them marinade for about an hour or so I skewered them up with a sage leaf between each kidney. I then wrapped Parma ham round them. I think this was my biggest innovation for this dish, kidneys have a rather unique texture which along with their strong flavour can put many people off'. However, wrap it in Parma ham and the combination takes on a whole new balance. (Part of the inspiration for this is a skewer kebab recipe that Anisa Heliou has in her book 'Fifth Quarter', where she wraps caul around the kebab to add flavour and moisture from the fat in the caul to the offal on the skewer; I thought Param ham might be a better way to ease myself into offal on the barbecue).
I got the Weber grill going with an area of direct heat and the ability to bring the food off the heat when it was done. I happened to have some broccoli, a flat mushroom and an onion left over over, so with a bit of olive oil that went on the grill with the onion thrown straight onto the coals dirty style. Then polenta also went on which was also drizzled in olive oil along with the black pudding.
I really didn't want to overdo the kidneys, and having not done kidneys on the barbecue before I will admit that I did a trial run first with just one kidney; to work out how fast it was cooking and what a good grilled kidney on the barbecue looked like. It turns out that as long as you have a good char on the outside and about 3-5 mins either side then there is still a touch of pink inside and done perfectly!
I served the grilled kidneys on a bed of rocket with the black pudding and polenta, with the dirty onion, mushroom and broccoli on the side. I mixed together some blackberry vinegar (which was more like a syrupy glaze) and some balsamic glaze and sprinkled with some finely grated parmesan.
Verdict? I was really surprised, and very chuffed with myself. I'm not sure why but I thought kidneys would be more difficult to get right, and perhaps symptomatic of our general approach to offal. In fact it was really easy, even with the swankiness of the Parma ham and the blackberry-balsamic glaze it was still a really humble, simple dish. The kidneys had a beautiful flavour and the sage, tarragon and the Parma ham all complemented it perfectly. The gaminess of the kidneys was offset by the freshness and almost aniseed (but not as strong as fennel) flavour of the tarragon, with the sweetness, fruitiness and slight acidity of the vinegary glaze balancing the flavour profile out and adding extra depth.
This is the first 'proper' offal I've done on the grill and I can't wait to try some more. I'm glad I gave it some thought, as a grilled kidney on it's own might not have been the motivation I needed to explore more offal.