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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rognons - Kidneys on French menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
On most French menus, kidneys  will be Rognons de Veau, veal kidneys, or Rognons d'Agneau, lamb kidneys. The delicate taste and texture of these kidneys requires little cooking. The kidneys of older animals require a great deal more work.

Brittany Veal Kidneys Braised in a Chartreuse and red wine sauce together with their natural cooking juices.
Veal kidneys and lamb kidneys, will be on many menus in France.  There are tens of different recipes, with kidneys grilled, fried, broiled, as well as part of stews, pies and casseroles.
Despite the city dwellers preferences  for veal or lamb kidneys you may find an old-style bistro or a country restaurant. There, traditional menus may include beef kidneys, goat’s kidneys and or pig’s kidneys. These will be prepared as a slowly cooked stew, or as part of another recipe. 

Kidneys with sesame oil.
Photograph courtesy of   wEnDy
 I am not going into the reasons for the scarcity of kidneys on restaurant menus in the UK and USA; mostly because I know of no good reason.  However, historically many interna organs were considered the cheaper cuts.  As the standard of living rose, outside France, internal organ dishes became associated with low-income groups.  In France, the opposite happened. As a result veal and lamb kidneys, veal liver, goose and duck liver, veal and lamb sweetbreads and other cuts remained on the menus in Michelin starred restaurants. You cannot do to badly if you follow the French; they eat very well, and they cook very well!
 Even if you claim that you do not eat kidneys, and or liver etc. when you are at home, I can assure you that you do.. All of these parts play a role in the flavor and texture of those 100% chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and veal sausages, pies and burgers that most of us love. My greatest sorrow, where kidneys are concerned, is that I have yet to see a French version of that great British dish, steak and kidney pie; however, I am sure that a French take on that dish is out there somewhere.

A British Steak and Kidney Pie.
Kidneys on French menus:

Fricassée de Rognons de Bœuf – A beef kidney stew. The original fricassées were only made with chicken; however, that was originally; today fricassées are often made with veal, other poultry, kidneys, shellfish, vegetables and occasionally lamb or rabbit.  As a fricassée  stew was traditionally made with white meats and that same dish could also be called a ragoût blanc, a white stew.  White wine will be used and crème fraiche may be added at the end. Vegetables may be included in the stew or added later. Mushrooms are nearly always included.This is a stew of beef kidneys so it will be slowly cooked.

 Rognons Blancs or Animelles – These are not kidneys. These are the French  names for animal testicles.
Rognons à la Bordelaise – Kidneys prepared in the manner of Bordeaux. In this dish, veal kidneys are baked in a casserole, in the oven, with lots of red or white Bordeaux wine. Along with the wine will be onions, shallots, carrots and herbs, and no doubt the chef will include a bouquet garnie and parsley.
Rognons d'Agneau, Grillés au Bacon, Gratin Dauphinois et Légumes de Provence – Lamb kidneys grilled with bacon and served with Pommes de Terre Dauphinois. Pommes de Terre Dauphinois  are sliced baked potatoes cooked with olive oil and garlic and  layered with cream and milk; some versions include onions. This potato dish is sprinkled with Parmesan or Gruyère cheese and lightly grilled before serving. The potatoes are accompanied  in a separate dish, by vegetables prepared in the manner of Provence.  N.B.: Do not confuse Pommes de Terre Dauphiné with Pommes de Terre Darphin.

Fricassée de Rognons de Veau aux Pleurotes -  A veal kidney stew made with oyster mushrooms.

Émincé de Rognon de Veau,  Sauce Moutarde – Thin slices of veal kidneys lightly fried with a mustard sauce; this is a very popular dish.

A bistro dish of veal kidneys  and mashed potatoes; 
a popular bistro dish
Rognonnade  - A  traditional French kidney dish where the veal kidneys are served together with part of the sirloin, a veal steak.  In the USA, I was told this is called a kidney chop, but I have not seen it on modern US menus.   A French chef will have his or her butchers prepare the cut as it should be and prepare them together.
Rognonnade de Veau aux Champignons, Sauce Madère  Veal kidneys cooked with part of the  veal rib steak with mushrooms and served with Madeira wine sauce.

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Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
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