How to Make Devilled Kidneys on Toast

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I consider it a mark of a true connoisseur if someone loves offal. Or variety meats, as the Yanks call it so daintily. It’s not an easy thing to prepare well, let alone love to eat, but seeing as I grew up in the country with a dad who really relished offal, it was perhaps inevitable that I would develop a liking for it too. Deeply flavoursome and tasty when cooked well, it can be considered a delicacy. A rare treat, even, nowadays, since very few outlets stock it. Besides, if you are going to eat meat, why not go the whole hog and …erm consume the whole hog? Far less wasteful than pretending an animal consists only of fillets and steaks.

Also, offal is hugely popular in African cuisine, so let’s just say, as an African woman, it’s my culture to enjoy it. Heritage food, you might say. In the Free State, where I grew up, kidneys are traditionally served in a slightly tart sauce – niertjies in suursous, or chopped very finely and cooked in a rich brown gravy thickened with flour. For a real treat, try it at breakfast over soft maize porridge or slap pap – what Americans call grits. Delicious!

So here goes. I found some lovely fresh, plump lambs’ kidneys in the shop yesterday and brought it home for me and Rufus to share. (Rufus being our house lion aka ginger tom.) He got his share raw, while I whipped up a panful of saucy devilled kidneys to serve over hot buttered toast for breakfast this morning.

It’s essential to clean kidneys and soak them well beforehand, as this draws out the blood and removes all traces of bitterness. You may use either milk or a brine of 1 tablespoon of salt in 3 cups of water; I use both, one after the other. Soaking time a minimum of 1 hour, although I sometimes leave the prepared kidneys to soak overnight.

Use your kitchen scissors to cut the kidneys in half horizontally, then carefully snip out any gristle and fat. Keep the kidneys as intact and whole as possible at this stage. Place in the milk or brine, put in the refrigerator or a cool place and let soak for at least 1 hour/up to 8 hours.

When ready to cook, drain the kidneys in a colander over a basin and rinse lightly under cold running water. Pat dry with absorbent kitchen paper. Using the scissors, snip each kidney half into 3 or 4 pieces. Now you are ready to cook.


Serves 2-4 as an appetiser or breakfast


6-8 fresh lamb kidneys, prepared as described above

1 medium onion very finely chopped

1 T (15 ml) butter

1 T (15 ml) olive oil

1 t (5 ml) English mustard (prepared or powder) – don’t use grain or Dijon mustard, it’s too vinegary

Worcestershire sauce to taste

1/4 t (1 ml) cayenne pepper

salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup (125 ml) wine, beer or water

1 t (5 ml) Marmite or Bovril

1 T (15 ml) balsamic vinegar


  1. Heat the butter and oil together over high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan. When sizzling hot, add the kidneys and onion, stir well and fry for 10 minutes.
  2. Add all the seasonings including the balsamic vinegar and stir well. Let it cook until the sauce has thickened and spoon over slices of hot buttered toast. Grind over some black pepper, snip over some chives and you’re good to go!
Devilled kidneys on toast
Devilled kidneys on toast
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Celebrating life with food, wine, friends & happiness! Writer, cook and blogger. Author of four cookbooks. Passionately South African, proudly Capetonian.