02 October, 2009

Canned Pork Brains in Milk Gravy

Pork Brains with Milk Gravy. This product has been on my Grail List for years, ever since I first read about it on one of those stupid "Worst Convenience Foods" lists that seem to endlessly circulate around the internet. The brand that always seems to be mentioned is Armour, but they haven't made pork brains in years - demand was too low, and they eventually ceased production.

There is, however, still a company that makes them: Rose. And I found a source for them online. Eager to check another product off of the List, I ordered a couple of cans, and this week I decided to try them out.

The cans are small - 5 ounces, about the size of a tin of vienna sausage - but with almost 3200mg of cholesterol (1060% of the recommended daily allowance!) I figured five ounces would be enough even for two people (not Lynnafred or my wife, but special visitor Michael Loo.)

Opening the can was...interesting. The brains were completely submerged in the strange translucent "milk gravy" (which was actually a lot pinker and kind of sicker looking than the photos here will lead you to believe.) We dipped tentative fingers into the gravy and took a taste. Rather "not good," kind of a blend of cheap potted ham and potted meat food product, but not as tasty as either one (how much worse could that possibly be?) At this point, Michael and I had pretty much decided that the gravy would have to go, but still hadn't made up our minds about what exactly to do with the brains. We might have even considered scrambling some eggs and using the brains as a topping, kind of like the "serving suggestion" illustration on the front of the can. But then we poured the contents of the can into a shallow pan to get a better look at what I'd bought.

Yikes. That was really unattractive. It looked like dog vomit. We tasted a few pieces and the flavor and texture weren't completely awful, though: the brains were creamy in texture, much like a properly-cooked chicken liver. The flavor was kind of SPAM-like though, if you can picture it. We removed the brains from the gravy, and I set the pan of gravy on the floor for Zim, who really enjoyed it. From the time he finished licking the pan clean, it was impossible to get him to quit shadowing us.

Guest Chef Michael thought that a kind of "brain fritter" would be a good use for our cerebral treat, so I provided him with flour, butter, and vegetable oil. He put a couple of tablespoons of butter into a small skillet, added a couple of tablespoons of oil, and set the pan over a medium-low fire. While the fat heated, Michael dredged the brain pieces in flour. The thin wet gravy still coating them was ideal for picking up a nice coating of flour and holding it in place, and when the handful of brains were well-coated, he added them to the pan and gently stirred them as the moisture in the brains and clinging gravy made the butter foam. In a few minutes, the brain chunks were browned and crispy on the outside, creamy and delicious on the inside. A sparing sprinkle of salt and a generous grind of fresh black pepper were improvements, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor of the sauteed brains. They had cooked up firmly, retained their marvelous creaminess, and had gained a crunchy golden crust. The buttery flavor and the fruity fullness of the freshly-ground pepper complimented it nicely. We think they might have been even better had we seasoned the flour first with some sage and thyme.

Quite frankly, Pork Brains with Milk Gravy really don't deserve their bad reputation. They look a bit off-putting right out of the can, it's true, but coated with flour and fried crispy they're pretty damn good.


Mail order your own can or two of Rose Pork Brains with Milk Gravy from ShopFoodEx. They've got good customer service and fast delivery. Their shipping rates make it more economical to buy more than just a couple of small cans of brains, so you might want to do what I did and poke through their catalog to see what other goodies you can have shipped at the same time.

Rose Brand canned meat products are made by the Foell Packing Company, which is owned by the Bost Distributing Company of Sanford, NC. Foell doesn't seem to have a website of its own, but Bost has an extensive site here which give information on all of the brands they own and distribute.



J. Astro said...

You are a braver man than I am, fella. :)

I always find there's plenty of other things for me to eat without resorting to something that sounds so revolting. I think I'd resort to "pork brains and gravy" only in the aftermath of some nuclear apocalypse, and even then as a last resort, if all the other canned oddities had been spoken for.

But that's part of the charm of your site, man - you eat this stuff so I don't have to. Great post. Cheers.

Whiskytoast said...

There are horses, and then there is studs. You sir are a stud!
love this blog btw

Eric M said...

Looks tasty! I wonder if I can find cans of those here in OK?

Unknown said...

Dave- you are amazing! You really should add canned Haggis to your list!

Hope that Zim was OK after his treat- not like the allergic reaction to the Alpo!


Dave said...

Thanks, cheezmaker - Zim was fine, though he did drop a few really nasty farts later that afternoon.

TigerBlood said...

The same can of Rose Pork Brains has been in my cupboard for the last three years. My wife and I have used it as a threat to our kids. "No, you don't have to eat what we cooked for dinner. You can have the pork brains instead." Finally, I have decided to try them myself. I live in Tennessee and once ordered Brains and Eggs on Toast. That was almost 20 years ago. I was not impressed. I think I will try your preparation suggestions. I'll let you know...

BowieTip said...

Cholesterol is a precursor to testosterone, hence pork brains could be considered an aphrodisiac.

Pork brains are now on top of my list of unique foods to try.

Anonymous said...

I myself enjoy them scrambled in my eggs,which I am devouring right NOW!

davismac said...

I grew up eating pork brains and scrambled eggs... hard to find them anymore - Piggly Wiggly only store I have found that stocks Armor or Rose's.

Rich said...

Brains and eggs was a fairly common breakfast meal when I was growing up...Maybe it's a southern thing.

Stan's Restaurant, just off of I65 near Columbia, TN has them on their menu, although they spell them "Brains 'n Aigs". The one time that I tried to order them, they were out of brains (I didn't question that), so it probably isn't a big seller.

MissVLB66 said...

I don't eat them, but searched them out for a 95 y/o friend who can't find them in the stores anymore. For those wishing to buy them FAR cheaper than other online sources - directly from the distributor: http://www.shop.boonebrands.com/Rose-Pork-Brains-10100.htm

You have to buy 12, but that comes to less than $3 a can including shipping. They are 3-5 times that much via most online sources that I looked at. Bon appétit!