Six Simple Step to Remove Sheep Brain or Cow Brain

Do You Know How to Remove a Cow Brain?

You can buy beef brain from the local butcher or ask them to special order one for you. But if you have a fresh cow's head and ready to extract and remove the brain, do you know how?

I recently followed a friend when he slaughtered a cow and had the brain removed. If you want to know how - read on.

remove cow brain

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IMAGES ARE GRAPHIC AND MAY BE DISTURBING

Some readers will find the following photographs I used to illustrate this article, disturbing and offensive. I have to include these images as it is necessary to give a good graphical representation of how to remove the cow brain. So continue with caution.

Removing a Cow Brain

Dissection of a Cow Skull

  1. First, skin the cow head, then wash and pat it dry with a clean dishcloth.
  2. Next, place it on a solid table or any flat surface.
You are now ready to dissect the skull and remove the cow brain.

how to remove cow or sheep brain or sheep brain dissection
To remove cow or sheep's brain, first skin the cow's head, wash and pat it dry to prepare
 for the skull dissection

Tools Required to Remove the Cow Brain

The tools that will come in handy are:
  • claw hammer
  • mallet hammer
  • chisels (0.4 inch - 0.6 inch (10mm - 16mm) blade width)
  • knife


tools to dissect cow skull to remove cow brain or sheep brain dissection
 These are the tools required to remove the cow brain

Marking the Skull for Dissection

1. Mark the area behind the eye for easier identification for dissection as this is where the cow brain case is located. Be patient as the cow skull has two layers of bone and it is a slow process.

2. Then, use a mallet hammer to drive the bigger chisel (0.6 inches) through the skull. 

use chisel to drive through the sheep skull to remove sheep brain
Use a chisel to drive through the cow skull to remove cow brain

3. Continue to drive the chisel around the skull, as shown in the photos below.

use chisel to drive through the sheep skull to remove sheep brain
Use a chisel to drive through the cow skull to remove cow brain

remove cow skull to remove cow brain
Continue to drive the chisel with a mallet hammer into the cow skull

Use Claw Hammer to Prise Open the Skull to Expose the Brain

1. Once you finish the 'circle' continue to the upper part of the head. This time, make a rectangular cut going towards the 'edge' of the head.

     Next, do a rectangular cut going towards the 'edge' of the head to expose the cow brain
    Next, do a rectangular cut going towards the 'edge' of the head to expose the cow brain

2. Then, use the claw hammer to prise it open to expose the brain. 
3. With the claw, remove the other 'circled' part of the skull. You have now exposed the cow braincase.

Use the claw hammer to prise the cow skull open to expose the cow brain
Use the claw hammer to prise the skull open to expose the cow brain

You Are Now Ready to Remove the Brain from the Skull

  1. Use a knife to gently cut the nerves that 'connect' the brain to the skull.
  2. Then, gently remove the brain and place it in a bowl.
  3. You are now ready to clean and cook it the way you like.

Note: You can use the same technique to remove lamb or sheep brain.
the exposed cow brain
The exposed cow brain

More Weird Food Articles & Other Stuff

For more posts on weird and exotic food, please check out my articles on the
And for weird alternative medical therapy, check out
And on things related to our human brain, read
·         Smart Drinks to Make You Smarter  Can these man-made drinks make you smart.

Is it Safe to Eat Cow Brain? 

The risk of eating cow brain was never a concern in the past until the Mad Cow Disease appeared in the United Kingdom in 1986. This was the first known case and since then, the fear of eating cow brain became an issue. As reported in WebMD, eating beef products from cattle suffering from Mad Cow Disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) can result in the brain-wasting disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease since the cow brain is linked to the infected central nervous system tissue.

how to remove sheep brain or cow brain

Body Parts linked to the Nervous System is Easy Target for BSE

Prion, the abnormal protein found on the cell surfaces, is the cause of this disease. As Prion tend to live in the nervous system tissue, any food linked to the central nervous system such as brain and spinal cord, becomes the easy target. Hence, the inherent fear and risk of eating a cow brain.

Based on the NBC News report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service took precautionary measure in the control of BSE by allowing sales of cow brain from cattle that are 30 months or younger At this age range, Prion will not reach the incubation period for a cow to develop BSE

If a cow is healthy, below 30 months old and not suffering from BSE, is it safe to eat cow brain? Except for the high level of cholesterol, there are no reports to say otherwise.

Any Health Benefits of Cow Brain?

If a cow is healthy, are there any nutritional benefits of a cow or beef brain?
If you consider the surprisingly rich amount of protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fat in a cow brain, then yes, there are some benefits. It also has substances that may be a health risk. But first, let's look at the benefits.

The Nutritional Profile of Cow Brains

Based on livestrong.com's report and nutrition data website on the nutritional value of cow brain, a cow brain is rich in the following nutrients:

  1. PROTEIN: Base on the studies done by Iowa State University, a cow brain can give about one-fifth of an average person daily protein needs. Based on this report, protein from brain source can help boost your immune system and maintain a healthy muscle.
  2. HEALTHY FAT: Cow brain is rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an Omega-3 fatty acid that helps reduce the chances of getting a cardiovascular disease. This can be confusing as cow brain is also rich in cholesterol, a component that also causes cardiovascular disease - we will discuss this in more detail at the later of this article. DHA is also an important component in promoting a healthy brain function.
  3. VITAMINS: Cow brain is a good source of Vitamin A, B5, B12 and in smaller amount; Vitamin C, riboflavin, and thiamine. Vitamin A is essential for low-light vision, development of skeletal tissues and healthy skin and teeth. Vitamin B-5 will aid in your metabolism and hormone production. Vitamin B-12 helps the nerve cells and keeps the red blood cells healthy. B-12 is also used to treat Alzheimer's disease and breast cancer. Vitamin C helps protect your body immune system, assist in prenatal health problems, and the skin complexion. Thiamine or Vitamin B-1 will give a healthy nervous system and aid in the proper function of the cardiovascular system and other muscles. Riboflavin or Vitamin B-2 is essential for the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. It is also required for the repair of the hair, skin, and nails.
  4. MINERALS: The beef brain is a rich source of phosphorus, selenium, calcium, and copper. Phosphorus will work together with Calcium to keep your bone and teeth healthy. It is also essential for a healthy kidney. Copper will help strengthen your body tissues and immune system. Selenium, with its antioxidant properties, help to protect your body from toxic free radical. It also plays a key role in your metabolism.

Despite the unthinkable thought of eating this weird and exotic food, eating cow brain does have its health benefits.

Health Risk of Eating Cow Brain

Besides the earlier reported risk of eating cow brain affected with BSE, there are also other health risks in eating cow brain.
  1. CHOLESTEROL: A 3oz (85 g) serving of cow brain will give you a whopping 2635 mg of cholesterol, which is more than the recommended daily limit. Eating food that is rich in cholesterol will lead to the hardening of the arteries and hence, bad for your cardiovascular system. In another study, the benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the cow brain as discussed earlier, is replaced by the danger of the high content of cholesterol in the cow brain.
  2. TRANS FAT in COW BRAIN: It also has Trans Fat that increases the blood levels of LDL or low-density lipoprotein, commonly known as the bad cholesterol. This will increase your risk of a coronary heart attack. The presence of Trans Fat also eliminates the benefits of DHA in the cow brain. Hence, the role of DHA is only to help you maintain a healthy brain function.

Benefits vs. Risks of Eating Cow Brain

When you weigh the benefits and risks of eating cow brain, will you stop or continue eating them?
In a recent interview, most die-hard cow brain eaters say they will continue to eat cow brain!
Based on a report by naturalnews.com, a cow brain is the most nutritionally dense part of a cow and is the best source of healthy oil. It went on to say that cholesterol is largely misunderstood by the public. It recommends continuing eating cow brain if you want a healthier brain and a better nervous system. (As written by Mike Adams, the Health Editor of NaturalNews.com)

Ready to Try Cow Brain? - Learn How to Prepare Cow Brain for Cooking

Before cooking, do the followings:
  • Soak cow brain for at least an hour in several changes of water.
  • Peel off the membrane that covers the brain.
  • Poached the brain in simmering water that had vinegar (of your choice) for 10 minutes.
  • The brain once cooled is now ready for cooking

Who Eats Cow Brains?

It seems almost every one! Cow brain in the form of fried brain sandwiches is popular in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Ohio River Valley, USA. The cow brain is breaded, then deep-fried and served like a burger. Since the outbreak of BSE, demand for fried brain sandwich dropped drastically. But it is now back in popularity.


cow brain beef brain sandwich
Cow Brain Sandwich

In Europe, cow brain is popular in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, and France, and you can find recipes to cook cow brain in many European cookbooks.

The popularity is also prominent and is a traditional delicacy in the Middle Eastern and African countries. They use cow brain in several dishes and as a sandwich filling. In Egypt, the cow brain is battered, fried, spiced up with a special red sauce, and served with pita bread. The Lebanese dish called Nikhaat, is a lamb brain fried with eggs, onions, salt, and pepper.

In the developing countries, the Latin Americans will have cow brain in their tacos and quesadillas, and these are popular in El Salvador and Mexico.

In Asia, the Indonesian cuisine from Sumatra is Gulai Otak, whose popularity had spread to neighboring countries such as Singapore and Malaysia that have large Indonesian Minangkabau descendants and Indonesian migrant workers.

In China, eating animal brain is common, but not so common with cow brain. Pig brain is more popular and the most adventurous Chinese will go for the more exotic animal brain. In the Philippines, pig brain is also a popular choice.

Eating Cow Brain Raw

The Africans, not to be outdone, will eat cow brain raw.
So there you are. Cow brain, which has very little characteristic taste, is eaten across the world, but in different preparation style.

Will you try one soon?


1 comment:

  1. Thanks to this article it is now easier for me to do this removal of cow brain which is a delicacy here in Medan, Sumatera Indonesia. In the past it was quite messy!

    ReplyDelete