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Brains for breakfast January 31, 2011

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Innards.

Before we go any further, I’ll add my disclaimer: the title of the post is not a euphemism for anything so if you don’t want to see photos of brains being prepared and cooked, don’t scroll past the orchid!

Image by Flickr user Anonymonk

So, yes, brains. I’d never seen lamb’s brains (or any sort of brains) for sale at my butcher before, so when they appeared one day, I immediately grabbed the box of them.

The thing about brains is that they so obviously look like what they are – unlike other types of offal, they can’t be easily disguised. The grey wrinkly lines and soft texture give them away immediately. I found this great post on the (now sadly defunct) blog Hungry in Hogtown, which not only contains the best photo of a brain I’ve ever seen, but also discusses why we may have difficulty with handling and eating this particular organ.

I was pleased to discover I didn’t feel any sort of squeamishness while handling these – which either indicates I don’t think highly of my brain, or that I’ve become sufficiently inured in preparing innards that it no longer bothers me. I’d like to think the latter…

To prepare some of the brains I bought, I decided to do a variation of Fergus Henderson’s brains on toast. In this recipe, the softness of the brains contrasts with the crunchiness of the toast. I decided to add to that contrast by battering and frying the brains, giving them a crunchy exterior. To prepare the brains, I followed this recipe. To start with, I poached the brains briefly in water, to which I added salt, peppercorns, bayleaves and parsley stalks.

After I brought the water to a boil, I simmered them gently for about 5 minutes, and then let them drain on some towel.

I broke them into halves, dried them off, and coated them in flour, egg and then a breadcrumb-parmesan cheese mixture. Then, I heated some butter in a pan and fried them until they were crispy.

Next, the Fergus Henderson part of the recipe. I made a variation of his green sauce, mixing parsley, anchovies, capers, mint, coriander and olive oil to form a paste. I spread this on some toast, and added the slices of brain on top.

A big part of this dish was the texture, and it didn’t disappoint. The crunchy exteriors of the brains gave way to soft interiors, with the richness of the brains balanced nicely by the green sauce. As for the taste – I was pleasantly surprised that the taste of the brains came through. They were slightly offal-y and reminded me in some ways of mushrooms or truffles.

This was a great breakfast. The contrast of both flavours and textures was fantastic and made for a very satisfying dish. The best part, of course, is that I didn’t use up all the brains I purchased, so there will be more brain recipes coming up!


1. Adelaide - February 1, 2011

I’ve always thought of you as particularly brainy…. now I know your secret!

inspiredbywolfe - February 1, 2011

I was waiting for the ‘smart waves’ to kick in but I don’t think it’s happened yet! Clearly I have to eat more brains!

2. Bob - April 4, 2012

Well that new! I have never seen someone excited to eat brains before. I think that you are very brave. Even though I have no idea who you are, I’m proud of you! Im going to France and my mom said that they serve alot of stuff like that, and I have been having nightmares about having to eat brains( or look or have a part of my brain taken out) since I new about that. Hopefully, she won’t make me eat them because of the high amount of cholesterol and I can eat all the nutella crepes I want! :D, good job!

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