This is admittedly one of the easier recipes in the book, although we did run into some trouble getting the required ingredients. The pig’s brains we bought from a wet market, although they came half-frozen and somewhat broken up. This didn’t affect the final dish much, other than the fact that the brain folds were not as obvious when the final dish was assembled — which is great for tricking people into eating brains.
The brain’s mellow, porcine flavour is rounded out with the mushrooms, while the caper and lemon pan sauce provided some acidity and salt to cut through the rich, fatty brains. Served on crunchy toast, the creamy, tofu-like texture of the brains almost feels like an extra-fluffy pâté.
“THREE LITTLE PIGGIES” Pig’s Brain and Porcini on Toast
Serves 4 | Level: EASY | Total time: 45 Minutes
court bouillon (makes 1 gallon; you will require 6 cups for this recipe)
1 cup roughly chopped onion
½ cup roughly chopped whole leek
½ cup roughly chopped celery
1 head garlic, split to expose the cloves
½ bunch thyme
1 bay leaf
½ tbsp sea salt
½ tbsp fennel seed
½ tbsp black peppercorns
Peel and juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup white wine
- Combine all ingredients with 1 gallon water in a large nonreactive stockpot and bring to a boil.
- Turn down the heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes, then strain before use.
roasted chicken stock (makes 2 ½ gallons; you will require 1 cup for this recipe)
10 pounds chicken bones
2 pounds chicken feet
¼ pound onion, roughly cut
¼ pound carrot, roughly cut
¼ pound celery, roughly cut
1 head garlic, split lengthwise
½ pound leek, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 spring thyme
Handful of parsley stems
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Place the chicken bones and feet on a sheet tray and roast until golden brown, about 40 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and place in a nonreactive pot
- Roast the vegetables on the same pan as the bones; when golden, after about 15 minutes, add them to the pot.
- Cover with 15 quarts of water and add the aromatics.
- Bring to a boil, skim the scum, and simmer for 6 hours, partially covered.
- Add water as necessary if the level drops too low.
- Let cool, strain, and chill.
Pig’s brain, Porcini and Toast
6 cups Court Bouillon
2 whole pigs’ brains, about 1 pound total
1 pound Grade A small fresh porcini
4 ½-inch-thick slices crusty sourdough batard
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 bunch thyme
Pinch of nepitella leaves (or a mix of mint and oregano)
Lemon juice, to taste
1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed
1 cup Roasted Chicken Stock
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Small handful of cress
2 large shallots, sliced into thin rings
- Bring the court bouillon to a boil in a large saucepan, then turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and season with salt.
- Lightly salt the brains, then poach them in the court bouillon until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove the brains, place them on a plate, and cool in the refrigerator, about 20 minutes. Once cooled, carefully peel off any membrane, and if there are any blood spots, remove them with the tip of a paring knife.
- Separate the brains into 2 lobes, reserving the cerebellum (the stem and 2 knobs at the back of the brain) for Brainaise
- Cut the porcini into quarters, reserving one to shave over the finished dish.
- Season both sides of the batard slices with olive oil, salt and pepper, then grill or toast them until golden and crisp. The key here is to not burn the bread; carbon shouldn’t be part of the dish.
- In a sauté pan, melt the butter over high heat. Once it starts to brown, add the brain lobes. Add the thyme and begin basting the brains. Add the porcini and shallots, and cook until the brains are nicely caramelised, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the brains and place the whole lobe on each slice of bread; divide the porcinis and shallots equally on top. Add the nepitella to the pan, sauté for a second, then deglaze with lemon juice to taste, add capers, and whisk in the chicken stock to emulsify. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, then add the parsley. Reduce the sauce to 1/4 cup, then spoon it on the toasts.
- Top with shaved raw porcini and cress.
Offal Good is published by Clarkson Potter Publishers. © by Chris Cosentino.
For SALT’s full review, download our October/November 2017 issue! Meanwhile, here are the other dishes from the book that we tested: Candied Cockscombs, Rice Pudding & Pomegranate; and Grandma Rosalie’s Tripe.