Sour Kidneys
Organ Meat, Pork, Swabian

Sour Kidneys (‘Saure Nierle’)

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Last Updated on 4 years by Tim

Sour Kidneys might not be the prettiest German dish but it is insanely delicious. It’s a traditional dish from the Southern parts of Germany. Sour kindeys are especially widespread in the Swabia region and can also be found in Bavaria.

It’s no random coincidence that organ meat is mainly consumed in the South of Germany. Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria have both been poor agrarian states prior to their rapid economic development after World War II whereas the Northern Prussian Empire has been comparably wealthy.

Water your kidneys

A lot of people are afraid that kidneys taste like urine. But there is no need to be scared of that. If you soak the kidneys in water before cooking, there will be no off-taste. I swear. Instead, they have a very special, lightly nutty flavor, that you won’t find in any other meat.

It’s best to buy kitchen-ready pig kidneys, that are already cleaned and cut into slivers. You can ask your butcher to do that or buy them pre-packaged. If they smell very strong like urine, soak them in milk instead of water like stated in the recipe. Milk is phenomenal to remove unpleasant smell and gamey flavors.

Pig Kidneys

An important thing to consider when frying kidneys, is that they don’t leak delicious meat juices. They will leak a lot of liquid when you fry them which is not delicious. Always discard any kidney juices.

The sauce for sour kidneys is always cooked separately from the kidneys so that the kidney juices don’t leak into it. Don’t trust any recipe that states otherwise.

How to cook the sauce for sour kidneys

I’ve shown you one way to cook the sour sauce in my recipe for sour tripe. In this recipe, I’m using a different method. I actually prefer this sauce over the one for sour tripe, and you can use it interchangeably for both dishes depending on your preference.

There’s no red wine in this sauce. The dark color comes from the roux which should be cooked until browned. To quickly cook a brown roux, you simply add a teaspoon of sugar to it.

Sauce for Sour Kidneys

Once browned, I stir in my beef broth and red wine vinegar. I add the red wine vinegar early on so that its sharp flavor gets mellowed out. The spices I add to my sauce are juniper berries, allspice berries, and bay leaves. Let the sauce simmer over low heat for at least 10-15 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.

How to fry the kidneys

I like to fry the kidneys shortly before serving the dish. About 3-4 minutes are enough to cook them through. Aim to slightly undercook them. Overcooked kidneys are hard and rubbery.

Don’t be surprised by all the kidney juices. They will leak out and steam the kidneys. That is fine. Just make sure to use high heat and discard all juices.

Frying the kidneys

For serving, the kidneys should just be warmed through in the sauce and then served directly along the sides of your choice. Spätzle or pan-fried potatoes would be the obvious choice for a Swabian. A Bavarian might prefer potato or bread dumplings.

One Comment

  1. I find veal kidneys are best. No need to soak, take care not to overcook – they should be pink – and they melt in the mouth.

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