Of all variety meats, sweetbreads are considered the most delectable. At one time considered offal (but never awful), they now cost as much as a fine steak, if you can find them. I hardly ever see them in supermarkets anymore, as I used to. But luckily, the Tip Top Meats market here in Carlsbad carries them, frozen of course.
They are noted for the taste and texture they have when properly prepared. They are extremely fragile, creamy smooth, faintly nutty, and maybe a little chewy. I find a hint of fois gras in their flavor.
Technically, they are the thymus gland of young animals. Some connoisseurs argue over which animal produces the tastiest, but to me they are all wonderful, and when you can find them, you just buy what they have.
As I described in the foregoing Foreword, they were the source of two wow!discoveries in my culinary experience. One of those is recreated here. As for the other, I am still trying. The following is based on the classic Sweetbreads a La Financière.
- 1 lb sweetbreads
- ½ tsp <salt>
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 carrot, in ½” dice
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 cup Refinancière Sauce †
Regardless of how they will be cooked and presented, all sweetbreads must follow the same initial preparation. First, sweetbreads should be soaked in cold water for a minimum of several hours to remove any traces of blood and produces a whiter and milder tasting sweetbread.
After soaking, the sweetbreads are blanched by placing them in a pot, covering them with cold water, adding a touch of <salt> and lemon juice, and bringing them to a boil. Allow them to simmer for 2 minutes. Remove them and plunge them into cold water. This further removes impurities, makes them whiter, and firms the tissue so that it can be easily trimmed and portioned.
Remove any visible veins, gristle, or the thick exterior membrane that envelops the organ. This is best done by using your fingers.
Slice into medallions by cutting on a slight bias. Sauté, the carrot and onions in a little butter until softened. Add the medallions and continue to sauté until slightly browned.
The classic brown sauces to accompany sweetbreads are Madeira sauce and truffle sauce (sauce Perigeaux). Here we use my Refinancière Sauce. Add it to the pan, raise to a simmer, and let cook a few minutes for flavors to meld.
Serve with Zydeco Extra Vert † on the side.