Calf brains on toast

This calf brains on toast recipe from Merlin Labron-Johnson may not be for the offal novice, but for those who enjoy the wobblier things in life, this dish is a thing to behold. The simple lemon, parsley and caper sauce soaking into the toast and mingling with the caramelised brain will make your day.

First published in 2016




Calf brains


  • 4 slices of bread

Lemon, caper and parsley sauce


To begin, rinse the brains in cold running water for 30 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover with milk and leave in the fridge overnight
The next day, rinse the brains again and pat dry. Bring the court bouillion to a boil in a large pan, add the brains and remove the pan from the heat. Leave to poach for 8–10 minutes, depending on size
  • 1.5l court bouillon
After this time, refresh in iced water. Once the brains are cold, remove any outer membrane and residue of blood or nerve. Cut each brain into 2 pieces
Grill the 4 slices of bread under a grill on both sides until nicely toasted
  • 4 slices of bread
Preheat oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Heat a heavy cast iron pan until smoking hot. Dust the brains lightly with flour, season well with salt and fry in oil until golden on one side
Flip the brains over, add the butter and baste with the foaming butter until well-coloured on both sides
Transfer the brains to a tray and place in the oven for 2 minutes. While the brains are in the oven, make the sauce in the pan that the brains were cooked in
Add a good squeeze of lemon juice to stop the butter from burning – be careful as it will splatter. Add the veal glace and scrape the bottom of the pan well to release the caramelised flavours and bring everything together. Add the chopped parsley and capers
Place a slice of toast on each plate and top with half a calf's brain. Divide the sauce between the 4 plates, trying to cover the brains and toast completely. Grate a little lemon zest over the top to finish
First published in 2016

After six years working in Michelin-starred restaurants in Switzerland, France and Belgium, Merlin Labron-Johnson returned to the UK to open Portland. Nine months later, he was awarded a Michelin star at just twenty-four years old. Now he can be found in Bruton, Somerset, with his restaurant Osip, which was awarded a Michelin green star in 2023.

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