Test your brain: Will eating brains make you brainier? Are brains fattening?
What is the best way to cook brains?
Brains have been eaten around the world for centuries and those enjoyed are those of pigs, squirrels, horses, cattle, monkeys, chickens and goats.
In many cultures, different types of brain are considered a delicacy.
In New Zealand you will find lamb and calf brains are the most popular, but a lot of processed meats will contain offal and brain without you even being aware of it.
Even adventurous eaters may draw the line at brains.
It's important that brains be fresh, so either cook them or freeze them the day you buy them.
If brains are not your cup of tea then sweetbreads would make a good substitute.
Sweetbreads are the soft and delectable thymus glands of calves and lambs.
Though it's hard to get fussy teenagers to eat them, chef and gourmets are clamouring for sweetbreads and this keeps the price high with the majority of the organs being exported to overseas markets.
And the answers for the brainy ones are:
1. No, eating brains will not make you brainer.
2. Brains are made up of 12 per cent fat and so are moist and tender but also like anything, eat in moderation.
3. The best way to cook brains or sweetbreads is crumbed. Delicious.
I like to gently poach them in a broth before they are fried in parmesan-flavoured crumbs thus giving a golden, crunchy exterior that contrasts nicely with the creamy inside.
8 lamb's brains
a few peppercorns
some parsley stalks
juice of half a lemon (or a dash of vinegar)
flour for dusting
1 egg, beaten
cup parmesan, grated
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Method Carefully rinse the brains, they are delicate so be gentle. Cold soak in water for one hour, this will help to draw out any blood or impurities. Place the brains in a pot and cover with cold water.
Add a generous amount of salt, the peppercorns, parsley stalks and lemon juice. Only just bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for four minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon, cool under cold water, removing any membranes.
Season with a little salt, dust in flour, then the egg wash, then the combined breadcrumbs and parmesan. Pan fry over a medium heat with butter. When the butter is foaming, add a few brains at a time and cook until golden brown all over.
Remove to a warm plate while you repeat with the rest.
Serve with a squeeze of lemon and a little of the browned butter from the pan. Serve with a crisp salad or spicy dressing.
- The Marlborough Express