Scary Cooking

Scary Cooking — Lamb’s brains

(by Kat)

Unless you’re a zombie, you probably haven’t eaten brains recently. But give it a go – they’re not hard to cook at all! In this episode of Scary Cooking, we cooked lamb’s brains two ways: fricasseed in white sauce, and crumbed and fried.

Hunting for brains in Berlin can take some time as many butcher shops don’t like to sell them. There’s a few reasons for this: some I suspect aren’t knowledgeable about how to remove a brain, some can’t be be bothered, and one uninformed butcher told me they didn’t stock them because of BSE (aka mad cow disease). Cow’s brains have been outlawed in Germany since 2001, but sheep’s brains are actually ok.

So where did we get ours? From a turkish butcher. In turkish cuisine, lamb’s head (aka ‘kelle’) is a traditional dish, so our butcher had no qualms about cracking some skulls open for us; the sight of which was, um, edifying…

Foto 1

Once you have your brains, most recipes recommend that you first soak them in water to draw out the blood. You can put them in a bowl and leave it in the fridge overnight, changing the water occasionally; but even a couple hours of soaking will suffice. It’s not entirely neccessary though – some chefs just give them a rinse and remove any funny looking bits of membrane before getting down to business. It’s up to you.


This is one of the oldest, most traditional (if you’re French or English) and simple ways to eat brains. My mum cooked this for me as a kid in Australia, and her mum did the same. The following recipe is enough for 2 kids and a grown-up to have as an afternoon snack. You’ll need:

2-3 brains
2 tbspn butter
2 tbspn flour
1 cup milk (approx.)
1/3 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper


Step 1: put brains in saucepan, cover with cold water (you can add a little stock if you like, or some onions, or lemon, or both) and gradually bring to a simmer. Simmer for 6-10mins, depending on how big the brains are.
Step 2: while the brains are simmering, make a white sauce (aka Béchamel sauce). It’ll only take a few minutes:

– in a pan, over gentle heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter, add an equal amount of flour, and stir/whisk together to make a roux (it looks like a cream paste). Important: do not brown!
– while stirring, slowly add a cup of milk to the roux. Keep stirring quickly as the sauce thickens. The proportion of milk to roux determines how thick the sauce will be, so you can add more or less milk as you like.
– remove from heat when you’ve reached a good consistency, add a pinch of salt or pepper to taste

Step 3: once your brains are cooked, cut them into 1cm cubes, stir them into the sauce, and add some chopped parsley
Step 4: serve on toast (in our case olive ciabatta)
Step 5: freak out about the texture



Crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside, we served these brains as a main dish with a ravigote sauce to cut through the richness. As an accompaniment we simply sauteed some fennel and beans in olive oil with garlic and salt. Health note: while lamb’s brains are a great source of B12, they are also loaded with fat and cholesterol: so don’t eat too many! The sauce recipe is at the bottom of the page. For the brains you’ll need:

4 brains (1 brain per person)
1 cup flour (sieved if possible)
2 eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
vegetable oil for deep frying


Step 1: just as we did for the first recipe, put brains in saucepan, cover with cold water (again, you can add stock or a squeeze of lemon) and bring to a simmer. Simmer the brains for 15 minutes. Take them out and let them cool a little.
Step 2: once the brains are cool enough to handle, gently pull them apart into two separate halves. Prepare a ‘crumbing station’: first flour, then eggs (lightly beaten), then breadcrumbs. Get those brains crumbed!
Step 3: heat vegetable oil in deep saucepan for frying.
Step 4: gently place crumbed brains into the oil, cook until golden brown – this should only take a couple minutes max. It’s quick!
Step 5: remove brains from oil and allow the oil to drain off.
Step 6: serve on a bed of vegetables with a dribble of ravigote sauce
Step 7: freak out about the texture again.


whisk the following together in a bowl:
•    75ml white wine vinegar
•    300ml vegetable oil
•    5 tbsp tarragon Dijon mustard (or regular Dijon and two tablespoons chopped fresh Tarragon – we just couldn’t find it)
•    2 tbsp capers, finely chopped
•    2 tbsp cornichons, finely chopped
•    2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
•    2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
•    salt and pepper
– add a little more mustard and vinegar if you like a ‘sharper’ sauce. Serve cold.

Scary Cooking

Scary Cooking — Pig’s Tongue

(by Kat)

Yesterday I was at the Reve supermarket and happened upon pig’s tongue in the meat section (Pig’s tongue! At the Reve?!? What the…?). Most of Reve’s meat is pre-packaged, which is usually a signifier of evil-doing, but the novelty of them stocking such an item in a fridge otherwise committed to perfectly presented steak and sausages got the better of me. It was like someone’s ugly cousin showed up to the party uninvited. Out of solidarity for ugly cousins the world over, I bought a single tongue – about 200g for 2,55€.


It turned out there was a reason I’d spied it near the bottom of the cured meats section: the tongue had been ‘corned’ – a process of curing meat usually associated with beef, which basically involves having the cut sit in brine and nitrate for about a week. Salted meat of one kind or another has been around for centuries, often used as a war ration – so I figured if poverty and depression had a flavour profile, this was going to be it.


After a bit of research, the common directive was that one must simmer the tongue. This will help reduce the salt content and tenderise it. You can do this with stock if you like (just don’t add salt, because it’s already really salty from the curing process!) and it should be cooked for some time (some websites suggest more than 2 hours). The packaging said that the tongue had already been cooked so that may have sped this part up a bit for me. Tongue is quite firm to the touch (mmmm…), but after an hour and 15mins I gave it one last poke through with a knife without encountering any meaningful resistance. At this point you can take it out, let it cool a little, and remove any bits of skin or gristle (which seem to be more towards the back of the tongue). A lot of people on the internet are talented enough to peel their pig’s tongues, which seems like a pretty macabre party trick, but I just sliced a thin layer off the top. Weirdos.


My plan was to then throw it in a pan and give it a quick sauté before serving. I sliced the tongue fairly thin (as you would with lamb) and lightly floured the lot. It went into the pan with some melted butter; I gave it a light fry and then a splash of red wine and worcestershire sauce to sauce it up a little. And also because I wanted an excuse to open a bottle of red wine in the afternoon.


In the end I was in for a shock:

It tasted amazing.

The tongue was incredibly delicious and ridiculously tender. Wonderfully, melt-in-your-mouth-ly tender. All-my-dreams-fulfilled / love-me tender. It’s probably the least ‘offal-ly’ tasting offal you could eat, and once it’s sliced there’s no way you’d recognise it’s unsavory past. It’s stealth offal. I served it up with some wirsing and baked parsnip chips (because that seemed like an appropriately old-timey thing to do with it) and tucked in.


It was so easy I would definitely cook this again, next time sourcing from a grass-fed animal (of course). Seriously, it was DELICIOUS.

Scary Cooking

Scary Cooking — Liver and Lung Sausage Party

Brio asked me to take care of the recipe for this week’s scary cooking, and the scariest thing for me was lungs – so when after a bit of searching I came across a recipe for Hungarian Liver Sausage with Rice I knew I had found a winner.  I called up our local butcher and placed the order to make roughly a half batch:

  • 500 grams pork lungs
  • 500 grams pork liver
  • 400 grams bacon
  • 1 meter pork intestine
  • 150 grams lard

When we began preparing everything, I have to say I found the lungs anything but appetizing.  The bubble wrap-esque texture of the outside, the interior shot through with tough cartilaginous pipes, the foamy bubbles percolating out of the remains of a windpipe while cooking – it was clear we had graduated into proper scary cooking territory.  Kat was less squeamish than Brio and I – she hardly had her coat off before she was blowing up a lung like a baloon:



Not only did it swell to nearly three times its resting size, the color and texture changed dramatically.  This was a horrific and beautiful in equal measure – what an amazing thing a lung is!

We removed what bits of the windpipe we could from the lungs and then boiled them with the bacon for about 15 minutes before removing them to cool.


We had a difficult time determining how long these should be cooked for as the recipe was a bit light on details.  When we cut into the lung, it seemed still very raw so we cut into smaller chunks and put it back in stock pot for another five minutes.


We didn’t have access to a meat grinder, so the next step was to finely chop the lungs, bacon and liver so that it would be of suitable size for stuffing into the intestines.  If you have a meat grinder this would be a much faster process, but for small amounts it’s still very possible to chop by hand.




We boiled the liver for just a minute in an attempt to make it easier to chop.  I’m still not sure if this was a good idea or not as you can see that it resulted in something approaching paté.  During this time we also cooked the rice in the lung/bacon stock and fried a large, chopped onion in a tablespoon of lard.

Next everything got mixed together, plus a bit of added stock to make the texture a bit softer.  We decided to make two different varieties – one with fennel seed and red pepper flakes and the other with sage and majoram.


Finally it was time for the big event – we didn’t have a sausage stuffer either, so Brio fashioned a makeshift stuffer out of a water bottle and a camping mallet. Considering our humble setup it worked astonishingly well.


We all marveled over the finished sausages – they came out great!  One small problem was that we ran out of casings – if we made this or another sausage again, I think I would order ~1 meter/kg of sausage.


We pricked all the sausages a few times on each side before cooking and managed to only have one blow-out.

This was a fun day and the sausage came out great.  The fennel/chili sausage was the clear favorite, and all of us agreed we’d like to try our hand at sausage-making more in the future.  If you’d like to join in a scary cooking session, or you’d like help in starting your own, please contact me – dax at