Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sesos Marathon

In 2011, I was on a mission to find brains (sesos) in Miami but no butcher, meat market or slaughter house would entertain my request. I had thought of throwing in the towel on the sesos recipes, which would have eliminated a total of five from my overall count of 629 recipes.

But in 2012, on a visit to a meat market in North Carolina, Mays Meats, I gave my five recipes a second thought and crossed my fingers.

There they were. Pig brains. All frozen and sanitary and not stuck in a pig's head.


Recipe #82: Receta Basica Para Cocinar Sesos is the base for all the recipes that call for sesos. There is a debate as to whether sesos are cow brains or pig brains. I'd venture to say that after Mad Cow disease, there is no chance of finding cow brains out there. Many have said that cow brains were used in these recipes in Cuba. But today, we will have to use pig brains.

Once you're done with the basic recipe, you can then move on to the ones that are built from it.

Recipe #83: Sesos a la Crema, an appetizer type of dish that requires you to first make Recipe #294: Salsa Béchamel or Recipe #298: Salsa Mornay, a béchamel sauce made with Patagrás (Gouda) and Parmesan cheeses. Once the Mornay Sauce is made, you toss in the sesos and serve them atop toast.

Tastes a little like a mushroom cheese mix. No kidding. Quite bearable and possibly delicious - once you move past the hang up of eating brains.

Recipe #84: Sesos Grille finally challenges the "bacon can make anything taste great" rule. It does not make brains taste good. Not in the least.

Recipe #193: Tortilla Sacromonte has potential. It is actually a great recipe, using 1T of all main ingredients. Very OCD-ish. The brains go back to tasting like mushroom, mostly because the other ingredients overpower the taste of the brains and all you get is the mushroomy texture. You can definitely serve this Tortilla, sans brains, and call it something else.

And finally, the best known of the five brain recipes, Recipe #288: Frituritas de Sesos. Many of you ate this recipe as a kid, until you realized what you were eating. Luckily, I was able to kill most of the taste with a good amount of lime juice. But it wasn't enough to make me have a second piece.

All eight of us adults tried at least one recipe along the way. Some of my more adventurous friends ate their fair share of sesos (read: Fred).

Others were just too darn grossed out (read: Eddie).

Bye bye, sesos. Relieved to cross these off the list and start 2013 sesos-free!

264: Frituritas de Sesos


Pork brains, approximately 4oz.
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup Cuban cracker meal (galleta molida)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Oil, for frying
Lime wedges

1. Prepare the pork brain (sesos) according to the basic recipe.

2. Once cooled, cut pork brains into bite-sized pieces.

3. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Dredge each piece in flour, egg and cracker meal, shaking off all excess.

5. Heat the oil in a deep pan or deep fryer.

6. Gently drop each piece into the hot oil and fry until golden on both sides.

7. Place on paper towels to soak up excess oil.

8. Squeeze lime juice over each piece and serve immediately.

263: Tortilla Sacromonte


1 Tablespoon pork brains, basic recipe
1 Tablespoon ham, diced
1 Tablespoon French fries, chopped
1 Tablespoon pimentos, chopped
1 Tablespoon green peas
1 Tablespoon chicken giblets (menudos), cooked and chopped
1 Tablespoon onion, diced
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 Tablespoons oil

1. Heat the oil in a small omelette pan.

2. Beat the eggs with the salt and pepper.

3. Drop the eggs into the hot oil.

4. When the eggs start to coagulate, add the rest of the ingredients onto one half of the pan.

5. Fold the egg over, covering all ingredients and forming a half moon omelette.

6. Cover the pot with a large plate and turn out the omelette onto the plate.

7. Slide the omelette back into the pan to finish cooking the other side.

Makes one serving.

262: Sesos Grille


Pork brains, approximately 4oz.
1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 strips bacon, uncooked
1 Tablespoon dry white cooking wine
Parsley, chopped

1. Prepare the pork brain (sesos) according to the basic recipe.

2. Once cooled, cut pork brains into bite-sized pieces.

3. Season the pork brains with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Dredge each piece in flour and shake off excess flour.

5. Wrap each piece with bacon.

6. Place on a broiler pan, or any other pan that allows the drippings to collect underneath.

7. Cook in the oven, under the broiler, until the bacon is crispy and fully cooked.

8. Collect the bacon drippings in a bowl and add the dry white cooking wine. Mix.

9. Drizzle each sesos grille piece with the bacon wine sauce and top with the chopped parsley.

261: Salsa Mornay

2 cups Béchamel sauce
1/4 cup Patagrás (Gouda), shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated or shredded
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1. Prepare the Béchamel sauce.

2. Add the cheese and black pepper once the sauce thickens.

3. Leave over low heat for a few minutes to ensure that the cheese fully melts.

260: Salsa Béchamel

Béchamel is a white sauce (Salsa Blanca) made with milk.

4 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of nutmeg

1. Melt the butter over low heat.
2. Add the flour and whisk constantly until you make a paste.
3. Slowly whisk in the milk, a little at a time.
4. Add the salt and nutmeg.
5. Keep whisking until sauce thickens.
Season with black pepper and dry white cooking wine, if desired.

259: Sesos a la Crema

1 cup Béchamel or Mornay sauce
Pork brain, approximately 4oz.
1Tablespoon dry white cooking wine

1. Prepare the pork brain (sesos) according to the basic recipe.

2. Once cooled, cut pork brains into 1" pieces.

3. Add the pork brains to the sauce, over low heat, for a few minutes.

4. Add the dry white cooking wine and mix well.

5. Serve on top of small toasts as an appetizer.

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258: Receta Basica Para Cocinar Sesos

Pork brains
2 cups water, boiling
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vinegar

1. If you are able to find pork brains frozen from your local meat market (I found mine at Mays Meats in North Carolina), just thaw them out in the refrigerator when you're ready to use them. If they are fresh, ask the butcher to clean them for you.

2. Drop the pork brains in the boiling water, salt and vinegar.

3. Reduce the heat to a slow boil and let the pork brains cook for 15 minutes.

4. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and place them in ice water to stop the cooking.

Now, your pork brains are ready to be used in any recipe that requires cooked pork brains.