Much like my old friend head cheese, sweetbreads have a very misleading name. They are neither sweet nor bread. At least head cheese is is half accurate: it has lots of head in it. Sweetbreads are most commonly the thymus gland or pancreas from cows, sheep or pigs. It took me quite a bit of searching my area, but I eventually found veal sweetbreads frozen from a local butcher. Based on the shape of them, I would say mine they were “throat” sweetbreads or thymus gland.

thymus-gland-cow-diagram

To say they are unpleasant to look at is an understatement.

sweetbreads-image

 

I was almost afraid to handle this lump of impossibly soft meat. It felt like a one of those water-filled snake things you had when you were a kid.

There is a quite a bit of preparation time required for making them: they have to be soaked in salty or acidic water, then poached, then finished with some other technique. I went for fried.

After they are poached in milk, you can remove the outer membrane from each of the individual lobes of meat. Once I separated the pieces, it resembled a pile of fleshy cheese curds.

milk-poached-sweatbreads

 After stripping off what seemed to be endless amounts of membrane, it was time to fry them up. Like many of you, I am a firm believer in the idea that fried=good. Once I allowed a moment for them to cool, I popped one into my mouth. The texture was incredibly soft and smooth. I hesitate to use this analogy but the flavor was a lot like chicken. Not very strong at all, certainly meaty but not a huge punch of flavor at all. It certainly didn’t taste like other organ meats. A quick dip on some sriracha mayo and the second bite was even better.

Overall, they were very tasty, but I’m not quite sure I would go through the effort to make them myself again. However, if I saw an interesting preparation at a restaurant, I would not hesitate at all to order them.

Sweetbreads get a solid “Try It”– with a recommendation to let someone else make them for you.

 

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4 Responses

  1. joecav63@yahoo.com'
    Joe

    Try parboiling them, slicing them into smaller pieces and throwing them on the BBQ pit. Thats how we do it here in south texas

    Reply
  2. paulbadey@gmail.com'
    Paul

    Sweetbreads are delicious. you didn’t get the full effect next time dont break them up.After poaching and removing membrane, slice them in 1/2 inch pieces lightly dust with seasoned flour and pan fry.

    Reply
  3. para59@msn.com'
    Silas Wellington

    Hey thanks for the idea for sweetbread. I have been wanting to try them but this day and age nobody could give any idea on prep or how the taste. Thanks !!!

    Reply

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