Lamb’s Brains, Endive, And Shallots

To serve four.

This is the third of the four lamb’s brains recipes Mr. Henderson has shared in the cookbook, and sadly, it’s my least favorite of the trio I’ve made so far. Maybe I made a few mistakes while assembling it, thus the poor result. I’d much rather point the finger at myself as the reason I didn’t enjoy it, but I tried to follow the recipe as close as possible.

I started off by placing the endives in an oven proof dish with a few knobs of butter, some salt, pepper and a big splash of lemon juice.

Next, I covered the endives with aluminum foil and set them in a medium hot oven for a little under an hour to soften and soak up the butter and lemon juice.

While the endives cooking, it was time to pay attention to the shallots. I tossed a dozen peeled shallots with olive oil, sea salt and pepper before placing them in the oven with the endives.

As I was prepping for this dish, I poached the lamb brains exactly the same way I did for the Cold Brains on Toast. After they had cooled enough, I slipped them into hot, large-ish frying pan with another knob of butter for browning. When they had taken on a bit of color I removed them from the pan.

The now softened endives also needed browning, so I sliced each of them in half, dropped them into the same pan I used for the brains and turned the heat up.

With everything properly browned, the brains and shallots were re-introduced to the pan along with a splash of chicken stock. I bumped the heat back up to let the ingredients “get to know each other.”

Right before I plated the dish, a dash of sherry vinegar was added and then slightly cooked off. I then divvied up the brains, shallots, and endives. Finally, I sprinkled each plate with capers and some curly parsley.

Modesty aside, I think it’s a very pretty presentation. I just wish that the taste was proportional. There were so many flavors fighting for my taste-buds that I was really thrown for a loop. Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, savory; it ran the entire gamut. Again, maybe I made a mistake somewhere. I’d like to think I did, because otherwise this recipe just doesn’t seem to work at all.

One down, one hundred and fifteen to go.

Deviled Kidneys

The perfect breakfast on your birthday, with a glass of Black Velvet (half Guinness and half Champagne).

I had originally wanted to make this on my birthday back in January, but I was unable to find any place locally that carried lamb kidneys. It’s a real shame too, because this recipe is just wonderful, as well as amazingly simple.

Here we have six lovely little lamb kidneys ready to be pan fried. Firstly though, I needed to split them all in half, and then remove a little bit of hard white gristle.

In a bowl I mixed flour, some cayenne pepper, Coleman’s Dry mustard powder, salt and pepper. Once everything was combined, I dredged all of the kidney halves in the spiced flour.

In a sizzling hot frying pan I melted a knob of butter, and dropped the kidneys in. As they hit the pan, they began to firm up very quickly. I was reminded of Pillbugs rolling themselves up. After a few minutes I flipped the kidneys over and browned the other side.

With both sides cooked, I added a nice splash of Worcestershire sauce and chicken stock and let the liquid reduce down.

I plopped two thick pieces of toast down on a plate and covered each slice heavily with kidney halves and the reduced pan sauce. I was a bit worried about the kidneys having a uric-like flavor, because they sure smelled like urea while I was cutting them. Thankfully the cooking and spiced flour removed any trace of the foul smell and left a lovely spicy, tasty chunk of meat. The texture was actually a bit like eating a bit of Portobello mushroom which was a little surprising. I also followed Mr. Henderson’s suggestion and poured myself a nice Black Velvet. If you can get a hold of lamb kidneys, don’t just make this dish only on your birthday; make it as often as you can!

One down, one hundred and sixteen to go.

Sweetbreads

Once you have mastered this you are on your way, your sweetbreads ready to welcome any number of companions on the plate with them.

We tend to use lamb sweetbreads, mainly because of cost and the small nodule factor. This is not to put down the larger and equally delicious veal sweetbread.

The first time I had sweetbreads was at Original Joe’s in San Jose, CA after leaving an opera. The sweetbreads were sauteed with mushrooms and finished with a bright tomato sauce. The glands had a slightly metallic, slightly sweet, but meaty flavor to them that I’ve never found anywhere else. I’ve been in love with them ever since.

Locally, I’ve only been able to find veal sweetbreads, so I ended up I ordering a pound of lamb thymus glands from Zituna with the lamb brains. Here they are after a good rinsing in cold water to remove all the residual blood.

The recipe called for enough water to cover the sweetbreads, a healthy splash of white wine, garlic, a bouquet garni and a few peppercorns. Thanks to Michael Rhulman’s “The Elements of Cooking”, I knew that I was making a court bouillion. I’d have not know that otherwise; thank you Mr. Rhulman!

Once the bouillion came up to a boil, I slipped the sweetbreads in and left them poach for only a few minutes to let them firm up a little bit.

After letting them cool for a while, I began removing the outer membrane. A few months back, I had to remove the membrane from veal sweetbreads, and I can’t begin to tell you how much harder it was compared to the lamb variety.

One scorching hot pan filled with butter and olive oil later, I started to brown my now seasoned sweetbreads. Mr. Henderson instructed me to look for the “nutty nodule”, not the “burnt offering” or the “anemic gland”.

I’d like to think of these as fine representatives of “nutty nodules”. Served plain with slices of lemon, the whole pound of sweetbreads was devoured in under five minutes by my wife and I. We timed it with a stopwatch. Really. To me, they tasted exactly like the sweetbreads I remembered so fondly at Original Joe’s, while my wife countered that these were better. That brought a huge grin to my face.

One down, one hundred and seventeen to go.