In this mad new world of food that I work in these days, not one day seems to go by without a good story or a meeting with some fabulous food producer. I'm always championing the North East of England for its produce, and I'm genuinely proud to be working amongst some of the most amazing food producers.
Recently I met a farmer called Jimmy Bell, better known around these parts as Jimmy The Lamb Man. Why? Well, he rears, butchers and sells superb lamb which has grown up in the hills of his farm in East Wingates near Morpeth. Real quality lamb which you just know has been treat with great respect.
Last week I took a few glinting fresh lamb kidneys, a true treat that I have not used for an age. I know a lot of people are not sure where they stand with offal, but I try to inspire people to start using it more often. Not only are they cheap and good for you, they are also incredibly diverse in what you can use them in. Kidneys for me are the jewel of the offal; buttery soft if cooked properly with a fantastic gamey aftertaste, utterly delicious.
This is a variation on something Hugh does with kidneys. They seem to go so well with earthy produce such as lentils, so with the addition of robust beetroots and starchy sweet potatoes, this simple dish makes for a nutritious and flavour packed one pan meal that must surely convert the most strict of offal avoiders. Cheers Jimmy.
Chilli Lamb Kidneys with Puy Lentils, Beetroot and Sweet Potatoes
150g puy lentils, boiled until slightly soft
1 sweet potato, cut into 1cm dice
2 beetroot, cut into 1cm dice and par-boiled for 5 minutes
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp chilli flakes
4 lamb kidneys, washed and cut into quarters with the membranes cut out
1 glass of robust red wine, I used a Shiraz
1 small tub of créme fraiche or single cream
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 - In a large non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the sweet potato and saute for 5 minutes until golden.
2 - Push to one side then add the garlic and kidneys. Fry briefly for 1 minute until golden all over. Add the beetroot and chilli and cook for 1 minute.
3 - Add the glass of wine and quickly reduce by half. Tip in the lentils, créme fraiche or cream and balsamic vinegar and cook for 5 minutes.
4 - Taste for seasoning. Scatter with parsley. Serve with boiled rice and greens.