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The Globe and Mail

Gabrielle Hamilton’s calf’s brains fritto misto

Deep fried brains prepared by food writer Jacob Richler at his home in Toronto.

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

Crispy brains are the best kind. Hamilton prefers to use milk rather than water for soaking her brains as it purges the blood contained therein more reliably. But if you use lamb brain, water is good enough.

Servings: 6

Ready time: 45 minutes (plus 24 hours for soaking the brains)


Fritto misto:

1 kg calf’s (or lamb) brains

Milk to cover

Kosher salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 eggs, beaten

2 cups panko

3 Gala apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths

12 baby cipollini onions, peeled

Oil for deep frying

Lemon wedges

Simple beurre noisette:

1/4 lb butter

1/4 (preferably salt-packed) capers, rinsed and drained

2 tbsp minced parsley leaves


Soak the brains for 24 hours in milk or water and rinse. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add salt, and return to the boil. Add calf’s brains and poach for 5 minutes (or 2 minutes for lamb brains). Shock in ice water, then drain and pat dry. If using calf’s brains, peel the web-like exterior membrane and discard (if using lamb brains, there is no need). Remove the stem and visible blood vessels.

Preheat deep fryer to 350 F.

Slice calf’s brain into serving pieces (with lamb brains there is no need – each lobe is the ideal snacking size). Set up a breading station. Dredge brains in flour, shake off excess, roll in egg, and then panko. Repeat process with the apple segments and onions. Deep fry until bronzed and crisp – about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season generously with salt.

Meanwhile, heat butter over medium high heat until it foams and begins to brown. Add capers and parsley to a ramekin. Pour butter over top.

Arrange fried brains, apples and onions on a large serving platter with ramekin of brown butter and lemon wedges, and serve.

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