Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Last night, I attended a whole hog butchering class with Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats. In about three and half hours, we went from this:

Hanging out

to this:

Yield from 4505 Meats' Whole Hog class

Actually, that's just the 8th (approximately 20lbs) I took home. It was a fun evening of sawing and hacking and boning and skinning (I spent most of my time cutting the face meat off of the skull). Despite having checked before I left home, my camera battery died shortly after arriving at the class, so I don't many pictures from the evening. (Somewhere there exists a picture of me holding the pig's ears up to my own head...)

To make up for my inability to photoblog the class, I'll tell you about the first thing I cooked with my yield.

See the plastic container in the second picture above? It contains something special. I was one of two lucky students to get to take home (um, gross-out photo coming up)...

Pig brains

...half of the brain!

Actually, no one else wanted any brain. Oh well, their loss, 'cuz that sucker was TASTY. I decided to indulge my latent zombie tendencies and have some fried brain for a lunchtime snack today.


I had a vague idea of what to do, but I always feel more comfortable if I have a guide when I'm cooking something totally new. Luckily, a cookbook of traditional German recipes given to me by my brother a couple years ago came in quite handy:

Pig brains!

Fried pig brains mise-en-place

On Ryan's recommendation, I sliced up the brain into thinner pieces:

Pig brain cross section

I sprinkled one side of each slice with salt and freshly ground pepper, and decided not to do the other side because the slices felt like they would fall apart if I turned them over. I put three tablespoons of butter in a frying pan on medium heat until it had all melting and was bubbling nicely. Then, (using tongs) I dunked each slice of brain into a beaten egg, coated it with flour on each side, and put it into the butter:

Frying the brain in butter

After a few minutes, I turned the slices over to reveal their crispy, golden bottoms:

Frying the brain in butter

A couple more minutes to brown the other side, and they were done!

The cookbook recommended serving the fried brain with capers and lemon wedges, so I obliged:

Fried pig brains

The accompaniments were good suggestions; the slices weren't quite salty enough for me, so the capers helped with that, and the lemon juice helped cut through the richness of the meat itself.

Verdict? Delicious! The breading was crispy and the brains themselves were creamy and slightly porky. If you have issues with custardy texture, this may not be the dish for you, but the slices are thin enough to avoid too much icky mouthfeel. Still, I don't think my husband will be sad that he was at work for this experiment.

Up next: tongue and trotter?


Elizabeth said...

I don't know how I missed this when you first posted it. This might be weird, but I love how obvious the different subregions of the brain are in the first "gross-out" pic.

Also, tasty!

David said...

We haven't tried cooking pig brain yet, those slices look so golden and delicious!

Ayn said...

Thanks, guys!

David, I recommend it. And when I put up my beef tongue post next week, I have you guys to thank for knowing what I was getting into with the whole peeling bit.

Ayn said...

Elizabeth, I thought it was totally awesome, too (but I doubt you're surprised by that).