Brains are actually somewhat nutritious. They are high in protein, at least. Some folks eat them, and some folks find the idea of eating them offensive, on many levels. Nobody is going to want to eat cow’s brains, for fear of “Mad Cow Disease” and not many of us would partake of monkey brains like in Indiana Jones. But what about pig brains? Ever heard of pig brains with eggs? It’s a thing. What about canned pig brains in milk gravy in a can? Apparently, that’s a thing too.
Armour offered them and I am not surprised by that. There is was even a recipe for scrambled eggs and brains on the back of the can, and a picture of pork brains and scrambled eggs as the “serving suggestion” on the front.
I’m not going to try to guess why they stopped, maybe it was the health nuts. But, thankfully you can still get your Armour potted meat, Vienna sausages, Treet (the Spam alternative), and, of course, Armour canned corned beef. The Corned Beef is a product of Brazil. What the?
Rose Pork Brains in Gravy
Now that you’re dying to try out a can, the good news is that you have one last brand to try. Rose Pork Brains with Milk Gravy are, according to one blog I read, “a Southern delicacy.” Growing up in Mississippi, I must say I never saw any cans of Rose Pork Brains around, and when I was stocking shelves in my uncle’s busy grocery store, I never put up a can of any pork brains at all. The serving suggestion on the front of the can is, you guessed it, scrambled eggs and pork brains. With a little sprig of parsley.
Alas, the most attractive can of pork brains in milk gravy is no more. Kelly’s pork brains had a smoke-piping leprechaun giving an A-OK sign on the label, just like their cans of chili. What better endorsement is there? Kelly’s, a company based in Jackson, Tennessee, went out of business in 2003, but apparently the chili, if not the pork brains, is still being distributed by an outfit called Vietti Foods, Inc. Sadly, I don’t have an image of the can that I can use, but you can view it here.
I did see a few cans of Kelly’s Chili on Mississippi grocery store shelves, but we never actually ate any in my family.
Update on Discontinued Canned Pork Brains
Reader Karlos in Denver wrote in to tell me he found a scoop that, despite all my claims of being a seasoned researcher (get it?) I completely missed. According to a story in Slate, back in 2008, pork brains being processed in the Austin Minnesota plant of Quality Pork Processors caused illness in plant workers.
The workers complained of weakness, fatigue, a feeling of heavy legs, pain, and sensory disturbance. The problem was traced to a part of the plant where hog brains were liquified using powerful blasts of compressed air. This caused pig brains to become aerosolized in the air and to enter the workers’ lungs, triggering an immune response. The plant voluntarily shut down the process.
The plant in Austin, MN is actually Hormel. As far as I know, Hormel never offered pig brains in a can, but this plant certainly may have supplied Armour. Whether or not this is the cause of Armour having discontinued their canned pig brains product is unclear to me. An educated guess would lead one to surmise that coming up with a new process just for the purpose of canned pig brains was not economically advisable. The brains were probably used for other purposes, as well, to be clear. In addition to the Slate story, you can read more at Mother Jones.
To be clear, there is no indication whatsoever that ingesting pork brains is dangerous to humans. The illness caused in the workers seems to have been an immune response caused by breathing in the aerosolized particles. What happened to the workers afterward, and the company’s response is something you’ll want to read via the link above.
Thanks, Karlos in Denver for the update. Couldn’t reply because there may have been a typo in your email but here’s the update! Please keep em coming, dear readers!
Scrambled Eggs and Pig Brains Recipe
Now that you know how to get yourself a can of pig brains, you’ll probably be a little disappointed to find that Rose doesn’t have a recipe for scrambled eggs and pig brains on the back of the can. No worries! I’ve got you covered. I dug up a recipe in the Global Delicacies: Diversity, Exotic, Strange, Weird, Relativism by Andrew Nyakupfuka
2 1/2 tsp bacon grease (this is not optional, you can’t use vegetable oil)
1/3 cup of whole milk (again, not optional, you can’t use low-fat milk)
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 can pork brains in milk gravy (Rose brand it is)
Beat the milk and eggs together in a bowl.
Melt the bacon grease in a skillet over low heat. Add the pork brains to the pan and stir. Stir in the salt and pepper. Increase the heat and add the egg mixture to the brains. Stir until the eggs are scrambled. Serve immediately with toast, and with grits if you want a “truly Southern experience.”
Come to think of it, I guess you could have figured that out on your own. Also, come to think of it, I missed out on a good many truly Southern experiences, but I probably ate some much more disgusting stuff than pork brains in a can.
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