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

Scary Cooking

Scary Cooking — Deviled Lamb’s Kidneys

We learned an important lesson this week – when ordering non-standard cuts of meat it’s important to be explicit about your expectations (in fact, this probably applies to much more than scary cooking, but perhaps that’s another post). We were aiming to serve lamb kidneys pan-roasted in their surrounding suet (the hard fat which encompasses kidneys), and although we were told by our butcher that this is how the kidneys were sold, when Brio picked up the goods it turned out we hadn’t made it clear enough.


What we got instead was 4 well-cleaned, little baby sheep kidneys. So it goes. We fell back to an old favorite and prepared them ‘deviled’ instead, along with some fermented cabbage, collard greens, boiled potatoes and two excellent fermented beverages courtesy of our guest Alexis from – a black current cream soda and a basil and corriander water kefir.

First we set everything to start heating up while we began to prepare the kidneys – remove the gristle from inside the kidney and slice into medallions.


Coat the pieces with seasoned flour – we used ground mustard, ground black pepper and cayenne pepper – then stir fry in a very hot pan with a good hunk of butter.


Brown the kidneys on each side and serve immediately with your sides of choice, some red wine or another fermented drink and enjoy!


Kidneys are quickly moving out of the scary realm and becoming a food I would feel comfortable preparing for friends or just on a quiet night in.  They have a very pleasant, creamy texture, a surprisingly delicate flavor and relative to other sustainable meat products, they’re very affordable.

If you’re interested in starting your own scary cooking group and you’d like more information, or you’re in the Berlin area and would like to join us, feel free to drop a line:

Scary Cooking

Scary Cooking — Pork and Cabbage

We missed our slot to order the scary stuff at our local butchers, so we decided to do a nice recipe involving some cabbage (plus apple and juniper berries) that had been fermenting for the last 2 weeks:


We nestled the pork belly and bay leaves in the cabbage….


… plopped in the pork neck….


…and drowned the whole thing in white wine:


The wine & oven trick always seems to work a treat…


…especially if there is some left to drink with the meal!


Boiled carrots and root parsley complete the picture.

Bon Appetit!


Scary Cooking

Scary Cooking — ❤️ Lamb’s hearts valentines special ❤️

We wouldn’t want to be heartless – especially on valentines day.

So off we went to Butcher Kluge and ordered some lamb’s hearts early in the week. The fact that they had to look up prices and phone the supplier indicates that we are now well and truly off the trodden path. (This is also time to remind ourselves that we are trying to eat slaughterhouse-waste rather than exotic stuff that requires extra animals to be killed. This is meant to be a sustainability rather than an artisan project.)

Today’s recipe is not for those in a hurry, it requires a lot of preparation and a cooking time of nearly 3 hours! Any good recipe starts with chopping onions, ours were particularly pokey – tears on valentines.


Add wine and bread and reduce to a fragrant stuffing….2016_02_14__15:50:01stuffing

While the stuffing is reduced it is time for the gory bit:
The hearts need to be trimmed and blood-clots have to be removed.

2016_02_14__15:41:40heartsEven the addition of some fresh sage and a posh cookbook fail to make this look very appealing…

After cooling down the stuffing, fill it into the lambs’ hearts


then cover with bacon and add some stock:


Ready for the oven (potato in a supporting role):


Settle in for a movie or take a long walk – the oven time is 2.5 hours and our side dish rutabaga only takes 20 mins of boiling.

Nearly 2 hours in things are starting to look yummy … and we get started on the rutabaga.

2016_02_14__18:31:59steam 2016_02_14__18:39:18suede

And here for the finished product. It tasted great, but after all that work and cooking it really should. Sustainability rating is great for the cheap ingredients, but we have to make deductions for the need to roast for 3 hours.

Let’s keep this one strictly for valentines only.


— Brio

Scary Cooking

Scary Cooking — Deviled Pig’s Kidneys

Things are heating up in the scary kitchen! We found a new local butcher with very fair prices and a willingness to supply almost any part of the animal on pre-order. We hadn’t ordered anything this time, but somewhere they found some Pig’s kidneys for us:


The diet of an animal is mostly reflected in the kidneys, so we are happy that this pig was grass-fed. I would not want to eat the kidneys of an indoors pig reared on antibiotics! Feeling more confident about the taste to expect, we now tried to improve the texture by cutting out some of the gristly bits:


The recipe from Ferguson’s The Whole Beast, which I had ordered from Hundt Hammer Stein, suggested chopping the kidney into bite-sized chunks and coating them in a mix of ground mustard seeds and flour:


After 2 minutes on each side a mix of red wine and Worcestershire sauce was added, then cooking on medium ‘until the ingredients had the chance to meet’ (Ferguson). After introductions were made, we invited the finished kidneys to the plate to meet some local potatoes and a dollop of our cabbage&apple ferment.


Not looking so scary now, are we?

In fact the texture was really smooth, just like having steak medaillons…


…for a fraction of the price: about €3 to feed 3 people on a grass-fed piece of organic meat!

— Brio

Scary Cooking

Scary Cooking — Cabbage&Apple Ferment

Fermentation is a great technique to preserve food over long periods of time, thereby reducing food waste and need for transportation. It can also make nutrients more accessible and has many pro-biotic advantages. An expert on this matter is Alexis from Edible Alchemy and today we tried out a recipe described in her webinar.

cabbageferment2016:01:30 19:23:16

The speed of fermentation is dependent on surface area so it is a good idea to chop everything evenly – in our case cabbage and apples. Then give it a good kneading and press all the moisture out. This should only take a few minutes depending on the amount you are fermenting.

cabbageferment2016:01:30 19:23:44cabbageferment2016:01:30 19:24:40

Press the vegetables firmly into a jar and then add salt water so everything is covered.

The bits that are poking out into air will rot and compost so one trick is to put a weight on top, like a coin of celery or a leaf of cabbage. It is recommended not too close the lid too tightly and put a plate underneath in case of overflow. This is a ‘living creature’ and levels might change and need adjusting. Any vegetable matter that does rot can be scooped off and refilled with salt water. Store outside of direct sunlight!


This is what the ferment looks like after one week. We liked the taste so we put this jar in the fridge to stop (or rather slow down) the fermentation process. The second jar is still fermenting just for curiousity’s sake.

There is a lot of cabbage coming through in my bio-region at this time of the year and this is a great way of using and preserving it all!


Scary Cooking

Scary Cooking — Bone Broth

Not really that scary – but high on the zero-waste stakes and a paleo staple.

All that’s needed are some bones from the butcher and some soup greens:


In his Paleo Cookbook Boris Leite recommends roasting the bones for 20 minutes and it does indeed look nice:

broth2016:01:30 17:04:44

We also tried frying the onions and garlic on one side, it makes for a cool photo if nothing else….

broth2016:01:30 17:06:20

Next just add water and herbs to taste (we used thyme and rosemary)

broth2016:01:30 17:10:37

The broth needs to cook for a loooooooooong time… this is after 2 hours:

broth2016:01:30 19:40:03

and this the finished product after 2 days:


It tastes very nice and surprisingly sweet, considering that no sweetener of any kind was added.



Scary Cooking — Intro

Eating outside of our comfort zone for sustainability reasons

The idea for the ‘Scary Cooking Group’ came about, because we felt that our diet is too uninspired, unvaried and most of all unsustainable. According to the vegetarian myth this also applies to a vegan diet, because in most cases industrial agriculture is still involved.

Regardless of the validity of Lierre Keith’s argument, one thing is for certain: If we do kill an animal, it makes sense to use as many parts as possible.  Too much food is getting wasted, because we tend to use the traditional bits (steaks, etc), and are neglecting many other parts even though they are often the most nutritional ones.

As for vegetables – the sustainable way would be to eat from within our bio-region. In Berlin/Brandenburg, that’s a whole winter full of cabbage. We want to explore ways to ferment regional fruit and vegetables, so they don’t rot in our fridges and pantries.

It’s time for a zero-waste approach to cooking.

We got together as a loose group of Berliners wishing to explore some recipes and ingredients that are maybe a bit off the beaten track. There still are a few rules though:

  • meat should be grass-fed and, if possible, organic
  • vegetables should be organic and, if possible, from CSA (community supported agriculture)
  • grains are not forbidden, but should not play a big part

It turned out, that Paleo-cookbooks and various fermentation websites are good starting points.


We are also happy to consider ideas that people post in the comments.

But now, without further ado, let’s cook some scary shit!