Our staff meals at the 3-star restaurant I cook at used to be reminiscent of traditional bistro fare. I remember looking forward to such entrees as moules frites, porc roti avec jus, poisson provencal but now it seems that all we eat are offal (awful) dishes that make my stomach do backflips.
We get two hearty meals a day to sustain us through the twelve – sometimes 13 hour – work day and I am always surprised at the French love of organ dishes. Now that I am cooking with the Chef de Viande we make all the meat for the staff – or in this case, he makes all the meat and I silently protest in the background and find other tasks that I must complete first.
I have actually visited Rungis, the largest market in the world and have seen the tools used to extract the brain from the animal skull in one piece. The brain is put in a metal clamp that holds it steady then a fork like plunger comes down and cracks the skull neatly in two and grabs the brain in one piece. It is horrifying to watch because the animal eyes are often still in the skinless skull and when it splits in two the eyes go their separate ways.
So, just how do you turn this gelatinous wiggly grey matter into something delicious? First, it is necessary to pick out any veins or blood vessels on the brain and remove the film. If the film is not taken off then it will not brown properly when sautéed. To draw out impurities and blood soak the brains in cold water (overnight if possible) changing the water every few hours. When the brains are sufficiently soaked, the water will be clear.
Quickly blanch the brains in boiling water and drain well. Then season with salt and pepper, roll through flour and fry up in salted butter until golden brown. Top with sautéed garlic, parsley with a squeeze of lemon. We serve them along side creamy potatoes which is supposed to compliment them in some way. Voila! Bon appetit! For the recipe click on “Continue reading Sautéed cerveaux…” at the bottom of the page
1 calf’s brain per person
1 cup all purpose flour
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 bunch italian parsley chopped
1/2 stick salted butter
salt and pepper
1. Pick the blood vessels and film off of the brains and soak in cold water overnight. Change the water every few hours. When they are properly soaked the water will remain clear.
2. Blanch in boiling water for two minutes and remove onto a rack to thoroughly drain
3. Season with and pepper
4. Roll through a pan of flour to coat evenly
5. Melt butter in a skillet on medium high heat. When it is frothy and begins to turn a nut brown color add brains. Sauté until golden brown, constantly basting with butter to evenly brown. Remove and keep warm.
6. In another skillet melt 3-4 Tablespoons of salted butter and quickly saute parsley and garlic. Remove from heat, squeeze lemon into garlic / parsley mixture, stir, and pour over brains.
7. Eat up!