Substitute for veal kidney

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Assistant Cook
Jan 9, 2021
It seems that there is not much demand for kidney meats where I live. When it does come up in the grocery store search engine, it’s very expensive, over $100 for a single item, and even plain old beef or pork kidney doesn’t come up at all.

If I want to make some of the Julia Child recipes with veal kidney, what’s an affordable solution I could find at my local grocery store? Should I just use liver or what?
I’ve never cooked with kidneys so I wouldn’t know if another ingredient had been substituted.

I would probably use chicken livers in a simple dish that featured kidneys in some sort of sauce.

Mushrooms might be good in a recipe where kidneys play more of a supporting role.

It might not be authentic but almost any substitute will be delicious.

Good luck.
Pork or lamb kidneys are milder, and easier to "flush out" than beef kidneys, which are much stronger. Do you have any Asian markets nearby? In those you can find just about every pork offal there is out there, as well as some lamb kidneys and the like. And one thing that might be close to it, that you wouldn't have to worry about flushing that undesirable urine taste out of, is spleen. It is milder than liver, and would be closer to the veal kidney (which I only had once, so long ago it was actually affordable! :LOL:)
You know how to cook kidneys, right? You put them in a big pot of water and boil the piss out of them!

I think your only chance for Veal kidneys, which would most likely be called calf's kidneys, is a butcher shop.
When I was young and living in the country and quite poor, we had pork kidneys a few times. They were cheap and delicious. I don't think they tasted much like liver and the texture was very different. I followed the instructions in the 1970s version of Joy of Cooking. Then, there was the time that soaking to get rid of odours didn't work. The whole house stank. We did not eat those. Just a heads up, that it could be an expensive, unpleasant experience. Or, it might work well and taste great.
Emily, ask your local butcher if he has them or if he knows where to get some (either you or him). If it's a small independent butcher would be able to get them. For sure a big box store will either have them or can get them. You just have to ask them.
I'm pretty sure if you can get liver you can also get kidneys.

Let us know what the say!
Thanks, I live in Minnesota, though I am in the Twin Cities area. I will probably go with the veal liver, Walmart has it for less than $5 a pound.

There's not a huge demand here for the super gourmet foods. Yeah, you can order online at places like Wild Fork, but the shipping is expensive. I've only done it a couple of times when I was treating myself for New Year's or something like that.

Some of the higher-end stores in town will sell the standard veal stew meat and stuff like that, but not the rarer stuff. I guess most people here would rather make Tator Tot Hotdish than a Julia Child recipe.
There is really no substitute for kidney. Definitely not liver. Completely different texture, consistency, and most importantly the taste. I love kidney. Sadly.
Maybe, just maybe, and it is still a stretch, if you get a beef or veal heart. Taste is different, but texture is similar.
But I hear you. Even though we have moved up on "gourmet food" scale quite a bit since I've come here 30+ years ago, we are still far behind places like Miami and New York. LOL. Back then meat loaf and mashed potatoes, skin on (brrrr...), was a gourmet meal you'd get in a restaurant.
I agree with others that there is not a simple substitute for kidney though I would chance another animal's kidney for veal which might be harder to find. If you can contact a farm that raises beef cattle, you could also inquire whether they have a butcher that you could contact. While you might not get it tonight, you could find a source which is great to know for the future. Also, as Pepperhead pointed out, Asian markets often have items like kidneys for a reasonable price.

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