Lamb’s brains with za’atar crumbs, bacon and apple butter

Lamb’s brains with za’atar crumbs, bacon and apple butter

Mark Roper

Whether or not you can stomach offal is, we firmly believe, a result of your upbringing! Some people simply adore it, while others are revolted by the mere thought of eating an animal’s internal organs. If you are predisposed to like offal, then this dish is bound to be a winner. It is a wonderful balance of textures and flavours, combining the tender, creamy nuttiness of brains with tasty, salty bacon and a sweet fruitiness from the apple butter.


Quantity Ingredient
6 sets lamb’s brains, soaked in milk for 2 hours, or cold salted water overnight
2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
100g plain flour
60ml olive oil
streaky bacon
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
baby herbs, (optional)
lemon wedges

Poaching liquid

Quantity Ingredient
1 lemon, quartered
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1/2 onion
1 litre cold water

Apple butter

Quantity Ingredient
200ml apple juice
1 granny smith apple, peeled and grated
150g cold unsalted butter, finely diced
salt and pepper

Crumbing mix

Quantity Ingredient
200g dried breadcrumbs
100g parmesan, grated
1 teaspoon Za’atar
1/2 teaspoon sumac


  1. Place the brains in a large saucepan with all the poaching ingredients. Bring to the boil, then skim and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and allow the brains to cool in the liquid. When they are cold, remove them from the liquid and split each set in half.
  2. To make the apple butter, tip the apple juice into a pan and bring it to the boil. Simmer until reduced to 50 ml. On a low heat, add the grated apple to the syrup, and then tip in half the butter. Whisk until the butter melts into the syrup. As it melts, the syrup will thicken but don’t allow it to froth up or boil. Keep it over a slow and steady heat until all the butter has melted, then slowly add the rest of the butter, bit by bit, whisking all the time to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper, then strain through a sieve and keep warm until needed.
  3. Preheat the grill to its highest setting.
  4. To make the crumbing mix, combine the breadcrumbs with the parmesan, za’atar and sumac.
  5. In a shallow dish, lightly whisk the eggs and water to make an egg wash.
  6. Now get a little assembly line ready with a shallow dish with the flour, a dish with egg wash, and another dish of the crumbing mix. First dip the brains into the flour, then into the egg wash and then into the breadcrumbs. Continue until all are crumbed.
  7. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the brains until golden brown.
  8. Place the bacon on a baking tray and drizzle with a little of the apple butter. Grill until crisp and golden, turning once.
  9. Serve 3 halves of brain per person, drizzle with a little apple butter and top with 2 pieces of bacon. Sprinkle with chilli flakes and baby herbs, if using. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.
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