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. 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. 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. 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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