Have you ever pulled something out of the freezer to thaw for dinner and found out when you opened the package it wasn’t what you thought it was? One day I decided it was time for some grassfed beef liver, which my whole family loves. So I pulled a package out of the freezer–it looked a lot like liver, it was dark, dark red like liver. I set it aside to thaw and didn’t think much about it until time to start cooking. I waited until the last minute to start cooking because I know liver cooks quickly, and, with a little bacon and onion, it is delicious!
However, when I opened the package of “liver” and pulled it out, I noticed right away that it wasn’t liver. I’d pulled out a globular piece of meat–yes, globular! Beef liver isn’t globular! I suspected right away that it was a kidney. I didn’t think to take a photo of the raw kidney, but here’s a photo of one (not as healthy-looking as my grassfed beef one), if you want to check it out. I’d waited so late to start cooking that I didn’t have time to change recipes to a more traditional kidney preparation. I knew kidneys were more tender than heart, which is similar to chicken gizzard, so I went ahead with the “liver” recipe. Guess what? It turned out great–tender and delicious! Quick and easy too, just how I like to cook!
Here’s what you need for this meal
1 grassfed beef kidney, rinsed well and cut into one inch pieces
4-5 slices bacon, cut into one inch pieces (naturally cured from local pastured pork)
1 large pattypan squash (or several small ones), cubed (mine was from the local farmers market)
Quartered tomatoes (unfortunately not local this time of year)
Butter (I used Kerrygold grassfed butter)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (Celtic sea salt and organic black pepper)
Here’s how to prepare the kidney and veggies
Over medium heat, cook the bacon in a large skillet until about done. Add the chopped onion to the bacon, and cook until the onion is almost translucent. Add the cubed kidney to the bacon and onion in the skillet. Continue cooking the mixture over medium low heat for about five to eight minutes.
Meanwhile, put the squash into a saucepan with a little water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes. Check for doneness with a fork. Drain, and season to taste with butter, salt and pepper.
We really enjoyed our beef kidney cooked like liver, but then we really like organ meats and don’t need to disguise them or hide them in anything like meatloaf or sausage. Our surprise turned out very well.
Why should you eat kidney?
What’s so good about grassfed beef kidneys? Well, they are just jam-packed with nutrients! Kidneys are high in lots of vitamins and minerals, especially B12 (necessary for nerve health) and riboflavin (important for energy production). They’re also a good source of niacin (for red blood cells and healthy tissues), thiamine (key to glucose metabolism), folate (important for red blood cells and brain and nervous system), pantothenic acid (supports the adrenal glands), and choline (important for utilization of fats and body detoxification).
And they don’t just have vitamins, kidney is a very good source of several important minerals, including selenium (a nutritional antioxidant), iron (essential for formation of hemoglobin), phosphorus (healthy bones and teeth and energy production), copper (important for hemoglobin production), zinc (involved in enzyme functions and detoxification), and manganese (important in many enzyme functions).
Beef kidney is also high in cholesterol, but you should know by now that cholesterol is good for you, in fact, necessary for your health! Cholesterol is in almost all cells of the body, and is especially high in the brain, nervous system, liver, and the blood. Cholesterol is needed for proper brain function. You won’t think well without it! Eating cholesterol is not a concern because our bodies produce three to five times the amount of cholesterol that we eat and will just produce more if we eat less. Cholesterol is so important that most cells of the body can produce their own cholesterol. We can’t live without it!
So enjoy your kidney and other organ meats! They’re really good for you!