• Brain Tacos with Bacon Fat Tortillas & Lemon Salsa


Lebanon Meets Mexico

By Andrew Zimmern

Brain Tacos with Bacon Fat Tortillas & Lemon Salsa



  • Juice of 2 Meyer lemons
  • Zest of 2 Meyer lemons
  • Segments cut from a few other citruses, I like Meyer lemons, pomelos, tangerines and blood oranges
  • 6 scallions, minced
  • 1 heart of celery with leaves, minced
  • 1/2 cup finely diced jicama
  • 1 small handful cilantro, minced
  • 1 small handful fresh mint, minced
  • 1 bunch pink fingertip radishes sliced very thin
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red hot fresh chile, minced
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper

The Brains

  • 2 pounds fresh calves brains, but pig, goat or lamb brains work really well too
  • one diced onion
  • 2 ribs diced celery
  • 1 dried hot chile
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 quarts boiling water


  • 4  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chilled rendered bacon fat
  • 1  1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions
  • Avocado slices for serving



The Salsa

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and let rest for 10 minutes before using.

The Brains

Bring water to boil, add all other ingredients except the brains. When water is simmering strongly, add the brains carefully and as the water comes back to a boil, lower heat to maintain a simmer.

Simmer for 7-8 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Let brains stand for 3 minutes in the hot water and gently remove with slotted spoon. Let brains rest on paper toweling for a moment to dry. Season with sea salt.

The Tortillas

In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the bacon fat and mix with your hands to evenly moisten the flour. Add the water and scallions and stir just until the dough comes together.

Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead just until smooth. Roll the dough into 20 even balls and transfer to a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 20 minutes.

Heat a cast-iron griddle or large skillet over moderately high heat. Work with one piece of dough at a time: On a lightly floured work surface, dust a ball of dough with flour and roll it out to a 9-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Griddle the tortilla, turning once, until browned in spots and pliable, about 30 seconds per side. Wrap the tortilla in a towel and repeat with the remaining balls of dough.

MAKE AHEAD Once cooled, the tortillas can be stored overnight in a plastic bag. Reheat before serving.

To Serve

Roll the tortillas around a portion of the brains (don’t overstuff!) with a healthy dollop of salsa and a slice of ripe avocado.

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