Herb-crusted lambs’ brains and spicy tomato sauce

Herb-crusted lambs’ brains and spicy tomato sauce

Ben's Meat Bible
Benito Martin

Lambs’ brains are often overlooked and under-rated. They have a beautiful nutty flavour and soft texture that is perfect if coated in a contrasting crispy crumb.


Quantity Ingredient
6 lambs’ brains
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 onion, diced
4 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
2 litres water
dijon mustard, for brushing
100ml sunflower oil
100g salted butter
red vine sorrel and rocket leaves, to garnish
extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
balsamic vinegar, to serve

Spicy tomato sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1kg ripe cherry tomatoes
1/2 bunch thyme sprigs, leaves picked
2 garlic cloves
1 red chilli
100ml olive oil

Herb crumbs

Quantity Ingredient
180-240g japanese panko breadcrumbs or fresh breadcrumbs
15g chopped flat-leaf parsley
60g chopped fresh mixed herbs, (thyme, basil and tarragon)


  1. Rinse the brains in cold salted water and set aside to drain.
  2. Place the carrot, celery, onion, thyme, bay leaf and 1 teaspoon of pepper in a large saucepan. Fill the pan with the water, set over a high heat and bring to the boil for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Season well with salt. Add the drained brains to the vegetable stock and, if needed, top up with more water to cover. Cook very gently for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the lambs’ brains from the stock and transfer them to a plate lined with paper towel. Discard the stock. The brains should be just firm. Allow to cool slightly, just enough so you can handle them. Using a sharp knife, split the brains in half. Remove any excess meat from the base so that you have nice uniform-sized brains. Cover and refrigerate while you make the spicy tomato sauce.
  4. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  5. To make the tomato sauce, lay the tomatoes on a baking tray with the thyme, garlic, chilli and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until well blistered and soft. Put the tomatoes into a food processor or blender and blitz to a purée. Transfer to a saucepan and simmer gently over low heat for 15–20 minutes, until thick. You will need to stir often to stop the sauce from catching. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm. Rinse out the food processor or blender and dry.
  6. To make the herb crumbs, place 60 g of the breadcrumbs in a food processor or blender, along with the herbs and a good pinch of salt. Blend on high speed until the mixture is super-fine. The mixture will be quite moist at this stage. Gradually add the remaining breadcrumbs – you want the mixture to become loose and dry. Tip into a bowl and use your hands to ensure there are no lumps.
  7. Using a pastry brush, generously coat the brains in mustard and gently roll in the herb crumb so that it sticks to the mustard. Remove to a tray and repeat with the remaining lambs’ brains.
  8. Heat the sunflower oil and butter in a large frying pan. When the butter begins to foam, gently add the herb-crusted brains. Cook over medium heat for 4–5 minutes, until the crust becomes slightly crispy, then turn and cook for another 4–5 minutes. Avoid cooking with too high a heat, as the herb crust will lose its vibrant colour.
  9. To serve, spoon some spicy tomato sauce onto a serving plate and arrange the brains on top. Garnish with a small delicate salad of red vine sorrel and rocket, simply dressed in extra-virgin olive oil and a drop of balsamic vinegar.
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