Strange Foods – Fried Cow Brain Sandwich

Fried Cow Brain Sandwich
Fried Cow Brain Sandwich | Source

Strange Foods – Fried Cow Brain Sandwich

As a public service, I have decided to keep my lovable readers apprised not only of Crazy Laws in U.S. States, Funny U.S. Towns like Pee Pee, but also Strange Foods Worldwide.

Did you know that at one time a fried cow brain sandwich was very popular in certain areas of the United States?

Sales declined during the era of the Mad Cow disease (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE) which affects the nervous system of adult cows.

I am NOT mad - just upset!
I am NOT mad - just upset! | Source

Then the federal government came to the rescue by instituting a new law stating that brains from adult cows (over 30 months old at time of slaughter) are no longer permitted in human food in the United States.

So, technically, cow brain sandwiches are now fashioned from calf brains.

My infallible research indicates that said sandwiches are still available in select cities in the Midwest. Fried brains are served heavily battered on hamburger buns. You can find them on the menu in Evansville, Indiana at the Hilltop Inn and a few ‘mom and pop’ restaurants.

They are also a favorite dish at the city’s annual West Side Nut Club Fall Festival.

In Defiance, Ohio a working man’s taproom named Kissner’s, still owned by the founding family, offers what their menu calls the ‘infamous’ brain sandwich – available since 1928.

Dining on cow brains is not limited to Indiana and Ohio. In Stockton, California cow brains are commonly sold from trucks as a tasty filling for tacos. Latins call them ‘sesos.’

In a few border towns in Texas, ‘barbacoa’ (barbecue) made from cow brains is served during the holidays.

Fried Calf Brain Nuggets

Would you like to taste this delightful delicacy? Here is a very simple recipe for making calf brain nuggets to die for (metaphorically speaking).

First, buy some brains. If your local butcher does not have them, ask him to place a special order for you. Brains from pigs, goats or lambs may be offered instead. Hold out for calf brains – they are the tastiest.

In addition to one pound of calf brains from your accommodating butcher, purchase these ingredients:

1 garlic clove (do not remove skin)
4-5 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
fresh herbs like parsley and thyme
all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 quart vegetable oil for deep-frying
kosher salt

Then watch this video which will show you how to cook and fry the calf brain nuggets of your dreams.

How to Prepare Fried Calf Brain Nuggets

Famous 'cow brain' quotes

“... everyone knows that some young bucks among the epicures, by continually dining upon calves brains, by and by get to have little brains of their own, so as to be able to tell a calf's head from their own heads; which, indeed, requires uncommon discrimination.” - Herman Mellville, 'Moby Dick' (1851)

“Everybody knows brains can be fried – just as all know they can be addled. We of the old South pickled ours. Go and do likewise if you want an experience.” - Martha McCulloch-Williams, 'Dishes & Beverages of the Old South' (1913)

Cow Brains Fun Facts

A breakfast of scrambled eggs and cow brains was once very popular in the Southern U.S.

Brain Salad is a middle-Eastern delicacy: sliced calf brain marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings, served cold.

There is a recipe in the earliest surviving cookbook by the Roman, Apicius, for brains with rose petals.

Legend states that the cook to Wilhelm the King of Prussia served donkey's brains ‘à la diplomate’ to Napoleon Bonaparte after his defeat and capture at Sedan.

The world eating competition for cow brains is held by Takeru Kobayashi, 17.7 pounds in 15 minutes.

In France, you can get your cow brain fix by ordering ‘Cervelles de Boeuf a la Poulette.’

In Italy, order your brains Milanese style: ‘Cervella alla Milanese.’

Bon Appetit!

Favorite cow joke

A man walks into a small bar and sees a cow bartender behind the counter.
“What are you staring at?” says the cow. “Haven’t you ever seen a cow serving drinks before?”
“It’s not that,” replies the man. “I just never thought the hippopotamus would sell this place.”

© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2015. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So."

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Comments for Strange Foods - Cow Brain Sandwich 41 comments

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 16 months ago from California Gold Country

I suppose almost anything deep fried is tasty, but for some reason -- what is it?-- I am not tempted to try this. The first hurdle to overcome is asking the butcher if he has any brains. He might see that as an insult.

Our college cafeteria used to feature beef heart on the menu occasionally, and that was actually pretty good. We were never sure if it was beef heart or beefart.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 16 months ago from Queensland Australia

Good hub drbj, mouth watering. My wife likes brains I prefer other body parts :)

Seriously, crumbed and fried calf's brains used to be one of my parents' favourite foods but mysef and sibings couldn't come at them. Now however I am a lot more open to trying new foods and I told my wife I would give them a try if she wanted to buy some. Thanks for sharing.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

When I was a kid, about once each month, we would have cow tongue for dinner. Disgusting! I can't even imagine eating cow brain. Disgusting to the tenth power! You are a kick. I love the trips we take inside your creative brain.


sunflowerforests profile image

sunflowerforests 16 months ago from The light in the forest of doubt.

This is funny but also nasty.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 16 months ago

I may skip lunch today after taking a look at those brains!


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 16 months ago

Ewwww, NO! I wish I had time to look it up, but there is some connection to eating animal brains and genetic brain malfunction in humans. (Not mad cow disease) If this is true, it is still risky to eat cow brains or any other animal brains. My grandfather loved squirrel brains, and when a family member went hunting, grandma always told them not to shoot the squirrel in the head. They also made a sausage called "souse" out of brains and other icky body parts of their hogs. It tasted like ____. (Can't say the word here.)


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 16 months ago from Oklahoma

I've had about every other part of the cow, but I've never got around to having the brains.

Here in Oklahoma they are usually served with eggs for breakfast.

Great read.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 16 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

drbj......Ewwwwwwww.......gag.....YUK!.....barf. Sufficiently grossed out, thank you. It will be a while before I have an appetite. ( That could be a good thing for a change!) LOL


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

Thanks, Rochelle, for noticing my not-very-thinly veiled potential insult to the butcher. I was amazed when I learned how popular fried cow brain sandwiches are in some parts of the U.S.

The fried calf brain nuggets look very tasty. I think I might sooner taste them than the beef heart (fart) you mentioned. Thanks for the chuckle, m'dear.


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

What a coincidence, Jodah, that your parents used to enjoy fried cow brains. Since you are now more open to trying them, let me know if your wife cooks some for you - and your reaction. She does sound like a 'keeper,' y'know.


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

We have something new in common, Bill. My grandma used to prepare tongue for dinner every once in awhile. My folks enjoyed it but my sister and I fed ours, very carefully, to our pet dog - who loved it! But then she would eat anything!

Thanks for the visit and the kind words. Hope your weekend is a blast.


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

Nice to meet you, sunflowerforests. Happy you found this funny. Try eating the fried calf nuggets with your eyes closed and make believe they came from MacDonald's. That might work.


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

Hi, bp. Although this dish is tasty, I do not recommend retaining that visual image of raw brains - could be distracting. ;)


sunflowerforests profile image

sunflowerforests 16 months ago from The light in the forest of doubt.

Actually...i doubt that would be far from reality for McDonalds.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 16 months ago from Southern Illinois

YUCK, YUCK, YUCK and more YUCK. My sis Mary lives in Evansville and I was there three days ago. I now know why I never stop at the Hilltop Inn. Hee. I've heard that brain sandwiches are really good. Your joke about the cow bar tender is funny! Another clever hub about the unusual...


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 16 months ago from Asheville, NC

Nasty stuff - glad I'm a vegetarian.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 16 months ago from Queensland Australia

Yes drbj, I will report back when I actually get to try them. I see a few comments about "cow's tongue" as well. We used to eat pressed cow's tongue quite regularly and it is freely available in the supermarket and butchers here. Tastes a lot like corned beef so no dramas. It's not like I eat everything though..Well I also like calf's liver and kidney is great.....and well, who knows what is in those sausages? I can't come at heart though or "sweet meats."


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

Hi, MizB. I could not find any substantive evidence of a connection between eating animal brains and genetic brain malfunction in humans which you mentioned.

There is a human version of mad cow disease which is called variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease or vCJD which is believed to be caused by eating beef products such as brains from cattle infected with Mad Cow disease. These cow products do not enter the U.S. food supply and the USDA believes this effectively safeguards U.S. public health from vCJD.

So it is risky to eat cow brains which is why I suggested calf brains only be used in the fried Nuggets recipe. Dunno though about squirrel brains but from your description I would stay far away from 'souse.'


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Larry. By all means give a fried cow (calf) brain sandwich a try with eggs for breakfast since they are available in your state of Oklahoma. Thanks for enjoying the read.


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

I do sincerely hope that your appetite has returned in time for you to enjoy your supper, Paula, and I sincerely apologize for any gastric distress that reading this may have caused. Mea culpa, mea culpa!


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

And, sunflowerforests, I'm sure MacDonald's would hastily be putting some distance between themselves and the aforementioned nuggets.


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

Now, Ruby, you will just have to go back and visit your sis, Mary, in Evansville again soon so you can sample those delicious fried brain sandwiches at the Hilltop Inn. I apologize for the YUCK factor.

Thanks for enjoying my cow bartender joke - it really is one of my favorites.


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

Hi, suziecat7 - how nice to see you again. Whatcha been up to? I guess I should not be expecting you for that surprise brain sandwich lunch I was planning.


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

I will anxiously await your feedback on the dish, Jodah. If 'sweetmeats' means pancreas, then I'll pass. If you are referring to chocolate, that is a different story.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 16 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Doc.....LOL!! I miraculously recovered when I walked into Pizza Hut!....No problem....

"Brains" were not listed as a topping! Whew!!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 16 months ago from Queensland Australia

Oh I meant "sweat bread", yes usual pancreas or testicles. Sweet meats are generally candy.


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

I'm laughing at your comment, Paula, because Pizza Hut would do that for me, too - in a heartbeat!


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

Thanks for the clarification, Jodah. Now I can enjoy my dark chocolate without guilt. Well, without a lotta guilt, that is.


poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 16 months ago

I don't need some cow mad at me so I will pass on the brains!


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

That was very well put, poetryman6969, a clever statement and a very wise choice. Most people are not aware but cows do kill people and I am not referring to bulls. See my hub on 'Cow Facts.'


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 16 months ago from Baltimore, MD

Umm, thanks, but no thanks for that one. I don't eat any beef at all anymore, and that sounds especially unappetizing. I did like this hub though. It is interesting to learn more about strange foods.


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

I have never been too fond of any animal organs as food including tongue, liver and brains, so I completely understand your viewpoint, Jeannie. Strange foods have a fascination for me though so you can expect some more hubs on the strange stuff we humans are willing to eat.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 16 months ago from Sunny Florida

I don't believe I could ever eat cow brain no matter how it is prepared. Years ago I was engaged to someone whose aunt liked to eat brains and eggs for breakfast.


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

I completely understand where you are coming from, Sue, and I share your rejection of the sandwich. I might try a calf nugget though if it is well done. You did not marry that fellow you were engaged to whose aunt liked to eat brains and eggs for breakfast. Right? That gene could run in the family. :)


drbj profile image

drbj 16 months ago from south Florida Author

I completely understand where you are coming from, Sue, and I share your rejection of the sandwich. I might try a calf nugget though if it is well done. You did not marry that fellow you were engaged to whose aunt liked to eat brains and eggs for breakfast. Right? That gene could run in the family. :)


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 13 months ago from sunny Florida

O, Okay, make mine pickled instead please (as I see can be found somewhere :D)

As I have learned to try to refrain from speaking in absolutes, I will not say that a piece of fried calf brain will never pass these lips but just say this: I will need to be starving before it happens.

Who would have thunk it....fried brains from a cow???

Leave it you, drbj, to provide us with the back stories we all long to know....

have a totally wonderful Saturday...

Angels are on the way to you this morning bringing blessings and hugs ps


drbj profile image

drbj 13 months ago from south Florida Author

Since you do not seem to be a die-hard fan of fried cow brains, Patricia, may you never get hungry enough to depend on them for sustenance. I'm with you there, m'dear.

Yes, providing you with trivia 'you long to know' is part of my dedicated mission. Thanks for finding this. Blessings, angels and hugs to you, too.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 13 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Mmmmmm Y U M !! Excuse me please.


drbj profile image

drbj 13 months ago from south Florida Author

YUM? Are you sure, Paula, dear, that you meant to write YUM? Or did you misspell UGH? Just wonderin'. In any event, I am most grateful that you returned (to the scene of the crime) and welcome your visit as always.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 13 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

I meant, "Yum"....but you couldn't see my face nor hear the tone of my voice......However, I was polite enough to excuse myself to go puke


drbj profile image

drbj 12 months ago from south Florida Author

Thanks for the clarification, dear one. I appreciate the delicacy in your response.

I did know what you meant though since I had much the same reaction when I first learned about this strange sandwich.

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