Brains Really

“I want order and taste.  A well-displayed meal is enhanced one hundred percent in my eyes.”

Antonin Careme (1783-1833)


Now, folks he has done it again. Who, am I talking about? Apicius. That damn ancient Roman. I was going to post a German recipe for Meatloaf, and give a tidbit of history. Well, guess what I found out – the first recorded recipe for meatloaf is in De Re Coquinaria (On Cooking) written by guess who -, Apicius. Damn him.

The modern version (I personally like the German recipe) is far better than what was made in Ancient Rome. You see in Ancient Rome they used Beef and /or Veal brains. Yep, you read that right, brains.

Tilly: Brains in black butter are delicious. Ask the Italians. Well, they would be if one could buy them. Haven’t seen them available for years; not since the BSE/Mad Cow debacle.

For that reason I am only posting the German version. It is a bit more modern in that it does not include brains. Of course you have to have at least half a brain to make it.


Olive and Tilly

Source [Apicius: a Roman cookbook circa 400 AD, J. Vehling, (trans.))]: Put in the mortar pepper, lovage, and origany, moisten with broth and rub; add cooked brains and mix diligently so that there be no lumps. Incorporate five eggs and continue mixing well to have a good forcemeat which you may thin with broth. Spread this out in a metal pan, cook, and when cooked [cold] unmould it onto a clean table. Cut into handy size. [Now prepare a sauce.] Put in the mortar pepper, lovage, and origany, crush, mix with broth, put into a sauce pan, boil, thicken, and strain. Heat the pieces of brain pudding in this sauce thoroughly, dish them up, sprinkled with pepper, in a mushroom dish.

Tilly: What is a mushroom dish, Olive?

Tilly I have no idea. – Olive


German style

Servings: 4


1/2 lb. lean ground beef /226.79 g

1/2 lb. ground lean pork / 226.79 g

1 medium onion, chopped

3 tablespoons breadcrumbs /44.37 ml

3 tablespoons cold water / 44.37 ml

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt / 2.46 ml

1 teaspoon paprika / 4.92 ml

1 teaspoon prepared mustard / 4.92 ml

2 tablespoons chopped parsley /29.58 ml

3 peeled hardboiled egg

4 slices bacon (cube 2 strips; cut 2 strips in half)

4 tablespoons vegetable oil / 59.16 ml

1 cup beef broth /236.59 ml


1/4 cup hot water / 59.14 ml

1 teaspoon cornstarch / 4.92 ml

1/4 cup water /59.14 ml

1/2 cup sour cream / 118.29 ml


1 Mix together ground meats, onion, bread crumbs, 3 Tablespoons cold water, and eggs.

2 Flavor with salt, paprika, mustard, and parsley.

3 Blend ingredients thoroughly.

4 Flatten out meat mixture in the shape of a square; about 8 X 8 inches.

5 Arrange whole hard-boiled eggs in a row along the middle of the meat.

6 Fold sides of meat pattie over the eggs.

7 Shape meat carefully into a loaf, resembling a flat bread loaf.

8 Cook cubed bacon in a Dutch oven about 2 minutes.

9 Carefully add the vegetable oil, and heat.

10 Place meatloaf in the Dutch oven and cook until browned on all sides.

11 Cut remaining bacon strips in half and arrange over the top of the meatloaf.

12 Place in uncovered Dutch oven in a preheated 350F/Gas mark 4 / 180 C oven for about 30-45 minutes.

13 While meat is baking, gradually pour hot beef broth over the top of the meatloaf; brush occasionally with pan drippings.

14 When done remove meat to a preheated platter and keep it warm.

15 Add 1/4 cup of hot water to pan and scrape all particles from the bottom.

16 Bring to a gentle boil.

17 Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and add to pan.

18 Cook until bubbly and thick.

19 Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

20 Reheat to warm (do not boil).

21 Season with salt and pepper if desired.

22 Serve the sauce (on the side), separately

Tilly: I’d be tempted to add some cornichons or chopped gherkins to the meatloaf. Or some mushrooms and capers to the sauce. And I’d definitely want some garlic in the meatloaf …

Tilly, if you did that, then it would not be German. It would be British. – Olive.


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4 thoughts on “Brains Really

  1. I’ll stick with good ole American meatloaf, thank you!!! Ground beef (a little sausage if you want), a few less spices, and oatmeal, not bread crumbs, eggs, onion, and always either tomato sauce or ketchup spread on top. It has to be mixed by hand, especially with little helping hands!!! I’m sure I add more ingredients, actually it depends on what’s in the fridge. Brains, you say? There are not enough “No” on earth for that one. ???

  2. Well, I gave to tell you, the Roman recipe did not make me drool. I guess I’m a little more provincial than I thought, although I’ve eaten strange things in the Army. Brains aren’t for me. However, German meatloaf sounds like I could try that!

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