BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Rabbit Kidney: Like Faintly Urine-Flavored Encased Pate

with 10 comments

There's a reason Julia Sunkler sells this organ meat as pet food.

Kidney Yakitori: Looks a little too good to be true. At least the dog loved it.

Let’s just say this enthusiastic “nose to tail” eater has hit her wall.  I have reservations, Anthony Bourdain. Andrew Zimmern, you’re too bizarre for me. Fergus Henderson, I can’t quite swallow the whole beast.

Tongue is no problem, whether from a cow, lamb or duck. Liver, cheek, jowl and belly I love. But kidney, at least rabbit kidney, I now know I do not. It’s one piece of offal that was pretty awful. I won’t be eager to try any animal’s kidney (lamb is used for steak and kidney pie), faintly urine-flavored and -scented as it is, again.

Why did I try it? Well, I got into rabbit for a recent article and perhaps the onslaught of criticism I received emboldened me to try some more rogue fare. I sauteed up some rabbit liver, which surprisingly tasted just like that of a chicken’s and made a delicious pate. Then I saw an episode of Treme, where the feisty but reckless chef Janette plates up rabbit kidney skewers and lamb neck when a Who’s Who of NYC chefs (David Chang, Eric Ripert) come to dine in her beleaguered post-Katrina New Orleans restaurant. And I saw Julia Sunkler had kidneys at her My Pharm stand, but in a big bag packaged for pet food. I asked her to set a pound aside for me next time she did slaughtering. It’s all about making the most of the animal.

A sweet soy marinade wasn't enough to mask the faint urine flavor. Not that I know what urine takes like.

But the dogs can have ’em. James Joyce had it right, describing his protagonist’s dietary habits in Ulysses: “Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices fried with crust crumbs, fried hencod’s roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.” Kidneys are just pretty gross. Even the soy tamari-honey-sesame oil-garlic-ginger marinade didn’t do much for their off-taste and mushy, gooey consistency. Perhaps it’s better chopped up in a stuffed than roasted whole? You wonder how many toxins you pick up with waste eliminating organs such as the liver, pancreas and kidneys, anyway. Still, when you think about it, kidneys are less gross than intestines (chitlins, tripe, and more commonly, sausage casings) that we seem to consume with relish. After all, urine is sterile. So check it off my list. Now onto chicken heart?

Rabbit liver virgin no more.

Chopped rabbit liver.


Written by baltimoregon

June 27, 2010 at 2:05 am

10 Responses

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  1. Ann Shriver
    You are indeed brave. You haven’t fully run the gamut, though, until you’ve been to a Southern African Braai and had the parts of the sheep reserved for the shepherd (the head) and the women doing the preparation (intestines–but you have to be a married woman to eat them; unmarried girls are not allowed.) I also remember eating parts of lung, including alveoli. Really.


    June 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm

  2. Dorothea Franzosa and Paul Cauthorn like this.


    June 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm

  3. Lori Ann Hoffman


    June 27, 2010 at 7:29 pm

  4. Jordon Steele
    good post. it’s fun to read about people eating gross things.


    June 27, 2010 at 7:29 pm

  5. Laura McCandlish
    Did you catch the Treme reference, Jordon?


    June 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm

  6. Rebecka Weinsteiger
    I didn’t catch the urine flavor, I thought the texture was unusual, flavor was really good. Aftertaste was strong, almost too strong and hard to wash away. Thanks for cooking it up!


    June 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm

  7. Laura McCandlish
    Luna the lab sure loved those things and ate part of the bamboo skewer they were on. Hope she’s ok today. Yeah, my morning breath was funky from the kidneys. Eating two also made my fart smell funny and my stomach feel a little bit off. But aren’t we so manly for getting those things down.
    5 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·


    June 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm

  8. Thank you for sharing your experience. I just watched iron Chief America, and one of the chiefs were using rabbit kidney’s. I am not much of an organ fan beyond gizzards, and pates. I have tried Chitlins at a restaurant in Houston, and there were actually very good. Your description of them how I expected the Rabbit kidney’s to taste, and I most likely will try other fare before I dive into this ingredient.

    George Whitehead

    March 10, 2012 at 9:29 pm

  9. Did you slice the kidneys in half and cut all of the white core in the middle? I raise rabbits, and have never had the kidneys taste like urine, not even in wild rabbit. Sounds like you just don’t know what your doing.


    August 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    • I agree. It seems the livers were left whole? *odd*. I usually cut them in half, clean them out, soak them in a mild salt water, wash, soak, repeat TWICE (same for chicken livers). Then a nice bath in vinegar + salt + water + some nice herbs, splash of white wine, rest for a few hours. Rinse again! … THEN use them! I like to sautee them with shallots, cinnamon, black pepper, a little chilly flakes, splash of rice wine vinegar, and a hit it at the end with butter and parsley! I’ve NEVER had an off “urine” taste… that’s mildly insulting to a clean cook.

      Drachen Andariel

      February 25, 2013 at 4:42 pm

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