cookbooks

No. 118. Cervello Alla Milanese (calf's Brains) Recipe

Cervello Alla Milanese, or calf's brains Milanese-style, is a traditional Italian dish that may not be for the faint of heart, but is beloved by many for its delicate flavors and unique texture. This dish has been a part of Milanese cuisine for centuries, and it is said to have originated from the Lombardy region of Italy. Calf's brains are a common ingredient in Italian cuisine, and the Milanese-style preparation of the brains is especially popular.

Fun fact: Did you know that calf's brains have been consumed since ancient times? Ancient Greeks and Romans considered the brain a delicacy and often made it into various dishes. So, Cervello Alla Milanese has a long culinary history, dating back to the days of the Roman Empire.

Now, let's delve into the preparation of this classic dish!

Ingredients:
- Calf's brains
- Eggs
- Bread crumbs
- Butter
- Salt, to taste

Instructions:

1. Start by scalding the calf's brain to remove any impurities. To do this, bring a pot of water to a gentle simmer and carefully place the brain into the water. Allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes.

2. Once the brain has been scalded, remove it from the pot and let it cool. It's important to handle the brain gently to avoid breaking it apart.

3. Once cooled, gently place the brain on a clean cloth and pat it dry thoroughly. This step is crucial to ensuring a crispy exterior texture.

4. Now, it's time to prepare the coating for the brains. In a shallow dish, beat the eggs until well combined. In a separate dish, place the bread crumbs.

5. Taking one piece of brain at a time, dip it into the beaten eggs, ensuring that it is evenly coated. Then, transfer the brain to the dish with the bread crumbs and coat it well, pressing lightly to ensure the crumbs adhere to the brain.

6. Repeat this process for each piece of brain until they are all coated with eggs and bread crumbs.

7. In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is hot, carefully place the coated brains into the pan. Ensure that the pan is not overcrowded, as this can lead to uneven cooking.

8. Fry the brains for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown and crispy. Be careful when flipping them, as the delicate texture of the brains can cause them to break apart easily.

9. Once the brains are cooked to perfection, remove them from the pan and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil. Sprinkle a little bit of salt evenly over the brains while they are still hot.

10. Serve the Cervello Alla Milanese immediately while still hot and crispy. This dish is traditionally enjoyed as an appetizer or a main course.

Now that you have prepared this unique dish, sit back and savor the flavors of this traditional Milanese delicacy. Cervello Alla Milanese pairs well with a simple salad or crusty bread. It is often enjoyed as part of a larger Italian meal, along with other classic dishes such as Osso Buco or Risotto Alla Milanese.

If calf's brains are not readily available or are not to your liking, you can substitute them with other types of offal, such as pig's or lamb's brains. The cooking process and coating method will remain the same.

Similar dishes from around the world include "Sesos a la Romana" from Spain and "Cervella d’agnello con prezzemolo" from Italy. These dishes also call for brains that are coated with egg and breadcrumbs and then fried, resulting in a crispy and flavorful treat.

So, whether you are feeling adventurous or simply want to indulge in a unique culinary experience, try preparing Cervello Alla Milanese and enjoy a taste of Milanese tradition. Buon appetito!

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