If you’ve ever cooked with beef kidney, you know that the smell can be quite off-putting. But why does it smell so bad? And is there anything you can do to get rid of the odor?
In this article, we’ll explore the science behind the smell of beef kidney and share some tips for making it more palatable. Whether you’re a seasoned offal cook or just curious about this nutrient-dense organ meat, read on to learn more about why beef kidney smells the way it does.
Why Does Beef Kidney Smell So Bad?
Beef kidney is an organ meat that is classified as offal. It plays a crucial role in the animal’s body by filtering waste and excess fluid from the blood and producing urine. However, this function also means that beef kidney contains uric acid, which can contribute to its strong smell.
Uric acid is a byproduct of the breakdown of purines, which are compounds found in many foods, including organ meats like beef kidney. When the body breaks down purines, uric acid is produced and excreted through urine. This is why urine has a distinct odor, and why beef kidney can also have a strong smell.
Additionally, the kidneys are responsible for filtering out toxins from the blood. This means that if the animal was exposed to toxins or had a poor diet, it can affect the quality and smell of the kidney.
The Science Behind The Smell Of Beef Kidney
Bemused biologists have discovered that the machinery responsible for identifying smells and tastes is present in various parts of the body, including the kidneys. This machinery is made up of olfactory receptors, which are specialized proteins that detect specific molecules and send signals to the brain to interpret them as smells.
In the case of beef kidney, the olfactory receptors in the organ can detect the presence of uric acid and other compounds associated with waste and toxins. These receptors then send signals to the brain, which interprets them as a strong, unpleasant smell.
Interestingly, olfactory receptors are not only found in the kidneys but also in other parts of the body, such as sperm. Scientists believe that these receptors may have evolved to help animals detect and avoid harmful substances in their environment.
What Causes The Strong Odor In Beef Kidney?
The strong odor in beef kidney can be attributed to the presence of uric acid, which is produced during the breakdown of purines. Uric acid has a distinct smell, and when present in high amounts, it can contribute to the strong odor of beef kidney.
In addition to uric acid, the kidneys are responsible for filtering out toxins from the blood. If the animal was exposed to toxins or had a poor diet, it can affect the quality and smell of the kidney. This means that if the animal was exposed to harmful substances, it can contribute to a stronger and more unpleasant odor in the beef kidney.
Furthermore, beef kidney is tougher than veal or lamb kidney, which means that it requires a different cooking method. If not cooked properly, it can also contribute to a stronger odor. It is important to soak beef kidney for an hour before using it in something acidic or plain milk to help reduce its strong odor.
The Nutritional Benefits Of Beef Kidney
Despite its strong smell, beef kidney is a highly nutritious food that offers numerous health benefits. It is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, selenium, heme iron, copper, and zinc. In fact, a 3-ounce portion of cooked beef kidney provides between 30 and 60 percent of your daily iron needs and more than 20 percent of your zinc requirements, which are essential for a strong immune system.
Beef kidney is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, and riboflavin. Vitamin A is important for maintaining healthy skin and eyesight, while vitamin B6 plays a crucial role in brain development and function. Riboflavin is essential for energy production and helps to maintain healthy skin and eyes.
Moreover, beef kidney contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and are beneficial for heart health. It also contains L-ergothioneine, a rare amino acid that may promote kidney health in people who consume it.
In addition to these nutrients, beef kidney is also a good source of folate and vitamin B12. These vitamins are crucial for maintaining a healthy nervous system and promoting healthy brain function. They also help to lower homocysteine levels in the bloodstream, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Tips For Reducing The Strong Smell Of Beef Kidney
If you’re interested in trying beef kidney but are put off by its strong smell, there are a few tips you can follow to help reduce the odor:
1. Soak the kidney in milk, salt water, or water and vinegar for about an hour before cooking. This can help to draw out any excess uric acid and reduce the smell.
2. Trim off any excess fat or filament layer from the kidney before soaking or cooking. These parts can contribute to the smell and removing them can help to reduce it.
3. Use fresh and clean beef kidneys that don’t have any strong scent or taste. This can ensure that the kidney is of high quality and hasn’t been exposed to any toxins or poor diet.
4. Cook the kidney properly and don’t overcook it. Overcooking can cause the kidney to become tough and rubbery, which can intensify the smell.
5. Use heavily salted water (1 tbsp salt per 1.5-2 cups water) to soak the kidney for at least 20 minutes before cooking. This can help to draw out any excess uric acid and reduce the smell.
By following these tips, you can help to reduce the strong smell of beef kidney and enjoy its delicious flavor and nutrient density.
Delicious Recipes For Cooking Beef Kidney
Despite its strong smell, beef kidney can be a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet when prepared correctly. Here are some tasty recipes to try:
1. Sauteed Beef Kidney: This recipe is quick and easy, perfect for those who want to try beef kidney for the first time. Soak the kidneys in cold, salted water for at least 45 minutes to remove any strong odor. Then, saute the kidneys in a cast iron skillet with garlic, coriander, and lemon juice for a flavorful and tender dish.
2. Steak and Kidney Stew: This classic British dish is a hearty and satisfying meal. Cut the kidneys into bite-sized pieces and brown them with salt pork in a heavy saucepan. Then, add onions, flour, wine, garlic, potatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce, thyme, and dry mustard. Cover and cook over low heat for 45 minutes until the stew is thick and fragrant.
3. Beef Kidney Burgers: For those who want to incorporate beef kidney into their ground meat mixtures, this recipe is perfect. Mix ground beef with chopped beef kidney and seasonings like salt, pepper, and coriander. Form into patties and grill or pan-fry until cooked through.
When preparing beef kidney, it’s important to soak it in either cold salted water or milk to remove any strong odor. Additionally, some recipes call for removing the lump of fat inside the kidney or peeling off any surrounding membrane to improve the texture and flavor.
Beef kidney is packed with protein and is naturally Paleo, low carb, keto, and gluten-free. It also contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, D, E, K, iron, and zinc. Don’t let the strong smell deter you from trying this delicious organ meat!