Calf Brains And Eggs
Eggs 'n' brains is a breakfast meal consisting of pork brains (or those of another mammal) and scrambled eggs. It is a dish of Portuguese cuisine known as Omolete de Mioleira (English: Brain Omelette). In Austria, the dish is known as Hirn mit Ei ("calf's brain with eggs") and used to be very common, but has seen a sharp drop in popularity.
Calf Brains And Eggs
In the American Midwest, the names are reversed and it is called "brains and eggs". It is also a breakfast dish in the cuisine of the Southern United States and has also been served as a lunch dish.
In our era, nose-to-tail eating and honoring the whole animal is a dying art, and, even among those who occasionally eat organ meats, brains are a one-off, and occupy a curious place in the hierarchy of organ meats. For the culinary purposes of this post, I'm only speaking about brains I've eaten: pork, lamb, goat, and beef.
But, brains have such a strong cultural stigma (at least in America) that even most people I know that eat other, more common organ meats will visibly cringe or laugh nervously at the very suggestion of eating them.
My hunch is that part of the reason most people (I include myself up to my mid 20's here) regard brains with the prejudice they do is because brains are inherently a different type of organ than the other commonly eaten offal. Kidneys, liver, and even sweetbreads, (glands from around the throat or heart that taste similar to brains), are all inert in that they're an organ with a singular purpose controlled by the brain.
I think, at least partly on a subliminal level, people are scared of eating brains as, in some way, they seem represent eating a consciousness, or a soul, as opposed to a simple chunk of muscle. In addition, prion diseases like the mad cow scares of the 80's and 90's in Britain understandably haven't done much to help the cause.
You're here to learn the dark art of brain cookery though, so I'm going to page through the grimoire and show you my process, starting with the intimate technique of how to cut a skull open to get brains.
Most recipes will call for brains to be soaked in water or milk before cooking, but often don't mention why. The reason is to purge them of blood, which will mellow the flavor, as keep a better color. Typically for me it takes 12-24 hour to purge brains of blood, although it can probably be done quicker if you change the soaking liquid more frequently.
Once the brains are soaked, you could cook them fresh, but at least to start, especially if you're serving them to others, I recommend par cooking them to set their shape, making them easier to hide in things, and add layers of flavor.
Next, the brains are poached in liquid, in my world this is typically with water, salt, bay leaf and lemon peel, although milk or a dairy mixture can be good too. After the brains are cooked, about 20 minutes or so, they're cooled in their liquid, then refrigerated.
After poaching and chilling comes the fun part: cooking, or reheating as the case may be. After cooking, brains will be firm, which makes them easy to handle and cut into attractive, evenly sized pieces. As they're heated, the brains will relax, getting delicate and creamy, a bit like fatty, semi-soft cheese.
Eating the brains of wild poultry isn't recommended in the United States (I can't speak to anywhere else) but the farmed partridge brains below were delicious. Serving small birds like this used to be an honorable (and expensive) way to serve poultry in fancy European restaurants.
It would be remiss not to mention the brains that shouldn't be eaten. Some places may have restrictions on the age of animals and other things, and I can't speak to where you live, I do know 3 that are pretty certain though (if you have possible additions, leave a comment or send me a message).
The reason for caution, and I'm just covering myself here, don't let it deter you, is prions. Prions can cause neurogenerative diseases (mad cow and others) and, they're freaky. Don't eat these brains.
Thank you for this info as I grew up eating all these unusual part of animals , fish, birds etc. My mothers Dad was from ENGLAND and her Mom was from American Indians decent. Many foods we enjoyed were toboo with most of the population. How sad when they never ate squirrel brains, chicken feet in dumplings, beef tongue, tripe, anchoive paste, hand picked mushrooms from nearby wood. Souse meat was made from the head of the hog and til this day, I steal render pork fat for cooking plus the tasty cracklings. I have yet to cook pork brains from scratch. That is happening this week, thanks to your recipe. That was my late mom who did it back in those days. Will let you know if I get anyone else around to join me. Lol
Is there an alternative to soaking in milk? I want to try cooking with brains but am really, terribly lactose intolerant. Obviously, once rinsed, there should technically be no lactose on the brain since lactose doesn't really chemically adhere to hydrophobic surfaces, but I am also hoping there is another curing method. I guess I could always use lactose-free milk.
Yes, of course. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that consumption of human brains is linked to a number of nasty disorders though. I'd probably stick with pork, also, you can fuck off with your idiotic comments.
Haven't had them for years. Lamb brains were good cheap delicacy where I grew up in NZ. Iv been too lazy to try here in Canada but this time the lamb i bought came with head cut in two, so will be trying the first of your recipes tonight.
Hey Nick, if a comment of mine came off like that it wasn't what I intended. I freeze brains with good success. Typically I freeze them raw. Testicles, sweetbreads, lungs, and all kinds of other things freeze just fine. The other half of my job is working with a lamb and goat farm and they ship around the country, all frozen, all the time. Works fine. Cooked, frozen meat can be dicey as freezing makes water expand and it ruptures the cells and makes things mushy.
I grew up in a secular Jewish home in Brooklyn, NY in the 40s and 50s. My mother often served poached calf's brains with ground black pepper and schmaltz (chicken fat) that she rendered herself. I don't recall her ever eating the brains but my dad and I fought over them. I love them to this day and find them increasingly difficult to source. Today I found pig brains at a local Asian market and tonight that is what's for supper. For me. Husband gets last night's leftovers!
Thank you for that post and ideas. Just wondering why you dont reccomend to eat venison brains? Well I am not that familiar with CWD because in south Europe we dont have it yet. But I am reading now about the CWD and there is little prove that it can be transmited to humans? I am eating venison (roe deer, red deer, chaimos, muflon) brains all my life and they are delicious. In fact I have never eaten brains other then venison in my life :). We also never soke venison brains, just remove the outer membrane (containing veins) under warm runing water. We also dont precook them. For me they also dont have any "off"/gamy flavours. Liver and kidneys are much stronger for me for sure. However, I always ate vension brains very fresh - up to one day after the harvest. I also eat just brains from animals that I harvested either myself or my dad.
Most of my readers are in the US, and eating venison brains is extremely taboo because of CWD. Squirrel brains too as they have a prion disease that's spread to humans. I actually have a relative who was diagnosed with it recently.
Dude! This is all beyond amazing. I'm going to ask my grassfed sheep/goat farmer buddy to bring me some of these brains this weekend and if sweetbreads taste akin to prairy oysters I have to try those too ; DIs there a taste difference or advantage in the two though (sheep/goat)!?Much thnx for the lovely recepies!
My Roman ancestors felt the same way. The Roman cookbook Apicius contains recipes for brain sausages, brain-stuffed squash fritters and rose patina (patina de rosis), a baked dish of scrambled brain and eggs, flavored with roses.
Except among zombies and evil meteors, eating brains is far less popular globally than it once was. Modern science has found brains to be very high in cholesterol, and also tarnished their reputation by associating them with a deadly epidemic. That would be mad cow disease, properly known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). In the 1990s, a BSE outbreak in the UK caused a global panic, leading to the deaths of over 200 people and the slaughter of 4.4 million potentially-infected cattle.
Cenellis. Recipe braynes of calvis heds or piges heds & put it in a pan or in a pott; & put þerto raw eggs & peper, saferon & vinegre, & stir it wele tyl it be thyk, & serof it forth.
This variety of Spanish tortilla is typically made by combining whisked eggs with lamb or calf brains and testicles. Optional additions occasionally include peas, breadcrumbs, nuts, potatoes, chorizo, peppers, or jamón de Trevélez. Bone marrow is also sometimes used as an ingredient. The brains and testicles are first sautéed with white wine and bay leaves before they are combined with other ingredients. The dish is usually found in Andalusia, but it is traditionally associated with Granada. It is believed that it originated in the Sacromonte neighborhood of Granada, an area known as the gypsy quarter and the flamenco center of Andalusia. Like other types of Spanish tortillas, this version is also fried in the pan and is quite thick, with the crispy outer layer and a soft center. 041b061a72