Calf’s brains are a delicacy in Albania; they can be cooked inside the head by boiling, or fried and used as part of a meze or side dish.
There’s a belief in Albania that young boys shouldn’t eat brains before they complete what used to be mandatory military service because it is said that if they eat calf’s brain before serving then their gun won’t shoot straight! This means that most of the time young girls get to eat all of the brains!
Good brains are very difficult to find in America; we’ve only found them in butcher shops. In Albania, however, the farmers always ate the brains of animals they butchered because they made sure to use as many parts of an animal as possible, which makes sense in a poor country. I have found that brains are enjoyed in many other places outside of Albania, even in more-developed countries.
I have seen many recipes that involve soaking brains in cold water for at least an hour to remove all of the blood, then poaching them quickly in boiling water to make them firmer and easier to fry. We don’t soak or boil them in Albania, we simply slice, dredge, and fry!
- 2 calf brains
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ t salt
- ½ t black pepper
- 1 T mixed Mediterranean dried herbs
- Garlic powder or finely minced fresh garlic (optional)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- Oil for deep frying
- Slice the brains lengthwise into cutlets.
- Mix the flour, salt, pepper, and herbs. We think garlic powder greatly enhances the flavor of fried brains; try mixing either some garlic powder or fresh garlic into the flour before dredging the brains.
- Dredge the brain cutlets first in the seasoned flour, then dip them in the egg, and finally into the breadcrumbs.
- Deep fry the brain cutlets.
- Serve warm with a salad or baked potatoes.