Eating brains can be scary for some but they really are quite delicious. This is a good recipe for people who are uneasy about them – who could possibly resist a golden deep-fried morsel with a crispy crust surrounding a creamy, silky inside? The spicy horseradish mayonnaise gives an extra tangy bite.
- 50 g plain flour
- ½ tsp river salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 140 g panko breadcrumbs
- vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 1 lemon, cut into cheeks
- 40 g fresh horseradish
- 2 tsp river salt
- 2 tsp hot English mustard
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, plus an extra squeeze, if needed
- 3 egg yolks
- 300 ml grapeseed oil
- 50 ml olive oil
- 2.5 litres water
- 1 brown onion, cut into quarters
- 1 large carrot, chopped into large pieces
- 1 celery stalk, chopped into large pieces
- 1 leek, white part only, washed and sliced into thick rounds
- 3 large garlic cloves, bashed
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ small bunch thyme
- 1 small handful parsley stalks
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 tbsp table salt
- 4 lamb’s brains
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- For the mayonnaise, grate horseradish into a bowl - ideally use a microplane, however the finest part of a normal grater will also work. Add the salt, mustard and lemon juice and combine with a whisk. Add the yolks, whisking to combine, then slowly add the oils together in a steady stream while whisking continually. Taste and add a little extra lemon juice, if necessary. Set aside. Store airtight in the fridge for up to a week.
- To poach the brains, place the water in a large shallow pot with all of the remaining poaching ingredients, except brains. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes for flavours to infuse.
- Carefully lower brains into the water, turn down the heat and gently simmer for 4 minutes. Remove the brains tenderly with a slotted spoon - they will be soft and fragile - and leave them to cool on a tray. Discard the cooking liquid.
- Once brains are cool enough to handle, separate the two lobes and cut each in half, trimming away any unnecessary messy bits.
- Set up a crumbing station. Place flour on a plate and season it nicely. In a wide-ish mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and milk and place next to flour. Then, next to that on another plate, add about half the crumbs. Next to that plate, place a tray large enough to fit all of the brains.
- In small batches and using your hands, roll some of the brain pieces in the flour before gently placing them in the egg mixture. Lift out, letting any excess liquid drain off and roll about in the crumbs until they are completely covered. Place them on a tray to rest while you coat the others.
- Once they are all done, lay out the rest of the crumbs.
- Now all the brain pieces need to go back into the egg mixture and then the crumbs. Double coating gives you an extra crisp and thick crunchy bit.
- Fill a wide-based pot half-full with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C. Fry the brains in batches for about 3 minutes at which stage they should be a slightly dark golden colour. Pull them out of the oil and onto paper towel, season heavily and let them rest for a minute or so.
- Serve with the mayonnaise and a wedge of lemon.
• Lamb’s brains and fresh horseradish are not necessarily the most common of ingredients. Your butcher should be able to order the brains easily enough with a few days notice but they do usually come frozen. If you can’t find fresh horseradish I would instead use an extra tablespoon of hot mustard. I find the jarred horseradish never quite lives up to its full potential.
Photography by Benito Martin
Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd
Platter by Slab and Slub from Small Spaces