Kidneys area tough sell for many people, who are often put off by the dirty work that these organs do, and if they've dared try them are sometimes scared off by the sheer intensity of the flavor—"liver squared" would be an apt description of their taste. (Anecdotal evidence: Lamb kidneys were served at my wedding dinner, and I think I was the only one who ate them.) To experience venison kidneys in all their flavor-bomb glory, do as the Argentineans do with beef kidneys: halve them and grill them plain. The recipe that follows, however, is a gentler introduction to eating kidneys, a south-of-the-border variation on the famed British pub standard of steak-and-kidney pie. This is a great way to use the kidneys of a single deer, since a little goes a very long way. For some added bang, try serving the empanadas with a sauce made from charred tomatoes (blacken a few seeded tomato halves in your broiler) blended with spicy chipotle peppers and some venison stock.
Venison Steak-and-Kidney Empanadas (serves four)
1 CUP MASA HARINA*
1/2 CUP FLOUR
1/4 TEASPOON GROUND CUMIN PLUS 1 TEASPOON
1/4 TEASPOON CHILE POWDER PLUS 1 TEASPOON
1 TABLESPOON LARD OR SHORTENING
1 CUP WARM WATER
1/2 POUND VENISON TOP ROUND OR ANY TENDER CUT, SLICED INTO ½-INCH CUBES
2 VENISON KIDNEYS (ABOUT ¼ POUND TOTAL), DICED SMALL
1/2 TEASPOON EACH CRUSHED RED PEPPER AND PAPRIKA
1 1/2 TABLESPOON OLIVE OIL
1/2 MEDIUM ONION, FINELY CHOPPED
1 POBLANO PEPPER, FINELY CHOPPED
2 CLOVES GARLIC, MINCED
1 CUP VENISON OR BEEF STOCK PLUS 4 TABLESPOONS
1 TABLESPOON CORNSTARCH
1 LARGE EGG BEATEN WITH 2 TABLESPOONS WATER
1/2 CUP YELLOW CORNMEAL
1/2 TEASPOON BAKING POWDER
 Combine the masa harina, cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and ¼ teaspoon each of cumin and chile powder in a bowl. Mix in the lard and then the water, adding a little at a time, working it with your hands until a dough forms. Mold this into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
 In a small bowl, combine the cubed top round and kidneys with the remaining teaspoon each of cumin and chile powder, along with the crushed red pepper and paprika. Salt and pepper to taste.
 Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Add the seasoned meats, stirring until the pieces are well browned. Put in the onion and poblano pepper, and cook for an additional 3 minutes, until just softened, then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Pour in 1 cup of stock and bring it to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons of stock and the cornstarch. Add this to the pan and stir to incorporate. Simmer briefly until the liquid thickens to a gravylike consistency. Remove it from the heat and set aside.
 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Fetch the dough from the refrigerator and cut it into eight equal-size pieces. With a rolling pin, roll out each portion of dough between sheets of plastic wrap, into 8-inch circles. (Allow yourself some time here; this is a bit of grunt work.) Beat together the egg and water until frothy, and working one by one, brush the dough rounds with the egg wash and place ¼ cup of the meat filling in the middle of each. Fold the round over into a semicircle (use the plastic wrap to avoid touching and cracking the dough). Seal the edges; if desired, crimp them with a fork. Brush the tops with more of the egg wash.
 Place the empanadas on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper and bake them for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden. Serve them hot with a charred tomato-chipotle sauce.
*Masa harina is hominy flour carried by most large supermarkets. If it's unavailable at yours, try a Latin grocery.
The culinary quality of venison kidneys can vary widely, with occasionally unpleasant results. I'd skip cooking those of an old deer or a rutting buck—they can be seriously pungent. Kidneys are encased in a creamy, waxy fat called suet, which is easily removed by cutting into it and then peeling it away. (Birds love venison suet. Pop some in a winter feeder and watch the invasion.) Also strip off the thin membrane covering the kidney and cut out the bean-size core of tube and membrane at its center—a far easier task if you split the kidney lengthwise.