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Devilled Kidneys

Game and Offal

Cut kidneys, usually lamb's, with hot spices such as Cayenne pepper and mustard. Frequently served on toast. Known in the 19th Century as a breakfast dish but more recently as an accomaniment to other meats.

There is no definitive receipt. Preparation might be as simple as sprinkling cooked kidneys with pepper, or may have a sauce, as in this much-repeated version;

The original source of this receipt isn't known. Can you help? editor@foodsofengland.co.uk

8 Lambs kidneys, cored and diced
1 Tablespoon Plain flour
Cayenne pepper
Mustard powder
2 oz Butter
2 Teaspoons Worcester sauce
1/4 pint stock
4 Pieces Hot buttered toast

Roll the kidney pieces in flour, salt, ample cayenne pepper and mustard powder. Melt the butter in a frying pan and gently cook the kidneys until browned but just pink inside. Add the stock and Worcester Sauce and simmer until the gravy is thick. Serve on hot buttered toast.

Known at least since 1800 (OED), Devilled Kidneys occur repeatedly in novels from the mid 19th to the early 20th Century, commonly as a sort of trope for just slightly pompous poshness. For instance;

'PUNCH', July 21, 1920; "Are we going to the Dogs? I was standing the other day at the window of the only Club in London where they understand (or used to understand) what devilled kidneys really are, musing in post-prandial gloom on the vanished glories of this England of ours."

'Foe-Farrell', by Arthur Quiller-Couch (1918); "He informed me that the Professor had put him up an excellent breakfast of grilled sole and devilled kidneys"

'The Way We Live Now' by Anthony Trollope (1875) "To Carbury Manor!" said he, as he eat some devilled kidneys which the cook had been specially ordered to get for his breakfast."

Of course, you can go too far with Devilled Kidneys in literature, as in Edgar Allan Poe's comments on rival novelist Charles Lever; "And then we have one unending undeviating succession of junketings in which devilled kidneys are never by any accident found wanting The unction and pertinacity with which the author discusses what he chooses to denominate devilled kidneys are indeed edifying to say no more. The truth is that drinking, telling anecdotes, and devouring devilled kidneys may be considered as the sum total as the thesis of the book. Never in the whole course of his eventful life does Mr O'Malley get two or three assembled together without seducing them forthwith to a table and placing before them a dozen of wine and a dish of devilled kidneys."

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