Unlike some of my previous dishes questionably named after Eastern European cities, this recipe truly was inspired by something I ate in Telavi, Georgia. Against all odds, the deserted restaurant in the town center featured brains on its menu, and they were delicious! The whole dish has a very mild flavor and melts in your mouth, and the way it’s prepared makes it easy for the squeamish to forget what they’re eating.
This is a very quick recipe, the main challenge being to find brains. You can use lamb, pork or veal brains based on their availability, the only difference will be their size. It is not uncommon to have to buy a whole head, in which case I recommend you ask your butcher to cut it in half for you — cutting the head yourself at home, either with a hand saw or a hammer and chisel, is a pretty tedious task. As I learned the hard way.
Pork brains Telavi
Yields 2 servings
2 pig brains (about 8 oz)
black pepper, ground
1 1/2 oz butter
1 oz scallion, white part only, thinly sliced
2 oz wine
2 oz chicken stock
1 egg, beaten
1/4 tsp scallion, green part only, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp chili pepper, thinly sliced
- Place the brains into a brine made with 1.5% kosher salt, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
- Drain the brains and gently pat dry with paper towels. Coarsely chop into 1″ cubes, and season with salt and pepper. Melt 1/3 of the butter in a pan over medium-high heat until brown (not black!). Add the brain cubes and scallion whites, and cook until golden brown, stirring regularly. Add the wine, reduce by half, then add the stock and cook until completely reduced, still stirring occasionally. Mix in the egg and the rest of the butter, cook for a couple minutes, and remove from the heat.
- Transfer to a bowl, top with the scallion greens and chili pepper, and serve immediately.