The Recipe Corner
Organ meats were a staple part of our ancestors diets and provided a tremendous nutritional benefit to groups of people who had limited access to other nutrient dense foods. Our ancestors experienced difficult times and had to make the most out of each calorie source they had access too. When they killed an animal they would consume every part of the animal.
Our current society has no emphasis on organ meats and they are mostly avoided. At US Wellness Meats we continue to savor the benefits of organ meats and support and encourage their consumption in our routine diets. Consuming organ meats on a regular basis can provide one with incredible health and performance benefits.
SweetBreads refers to the thymus (and/or the pancreas). The US Wellness Meats Sweetbreads are thymus glands, they are pinkish-white in color and they taste sweeter than the savory taste that most meat has. The “bread” terminology comes from the old English word that means “flesh.” These are considered delicacies in many South American and European countries. These glands are rich in trace minerals such as zinc and selenium which are key for hormonal function and immunity. They are rich in protein and omega 3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation in the body. It is not a stretch to say that eating thymus will improve immunity.
How Do You Prepare Sweetbreads?
Soaking is the first step in the preparation of sweetbreads. You might wish to soak them to condition them in just cold water, but others use milk or even buttermilk. After the soaking, sweetbreads are blanched in boiling water and then shocked in ice water to firm up the flesh. This doesn't usually cook them through, but it does make it easier to remove any remaining tough membranes on the outside. Once blanched, classic technique calls for them to be chilled and pressed into a uniform thickness, but it's not a necessary step. Finally, sweetbreads can be grilled, braised, or breaded and seared or fried. They cook quickly and actually are quite forgiving since they can't really be overcooked. To counteract the richness of the meat, many recipes serve the sweetbreads with an acidic sauce like lemons and capers.
Pan-Fried Sweetbreads Piccata
Author:Last Night's Dinner
Serves: 2 (as an appetizer)
- 4-5 ounces beef or veal sweetbreads
- milk to cover
- 4 cups water
- Kosher or sea salt
- Juice of half a lemon plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup Wondra or other finely milled flour
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon brined nonpareil capers
- 1/4 cup loosely packed picked celery leaves
- 1/4 cup loosely packed picked flat-leaf parsley
2 days before cooking, place the sweetbreads in a bowl or small container, cover them with milk, and allow them to soak in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the sweetbreads, discarding the milk, and trim any veins or dark bits. Rinse them well and set aside.
Place the sweetbreads in a small pot, cover with water, and add a big pinch of salt and the juice of half a lemon. Add the sweetbreads, bring the water to a boil, and blanch them for about 5 minutes. Remove the sweetbreads and plunge them into an ice bath.
Line a small sheet pan with a kitchen towel and place the sweetbreads on the towel in a single layer. Fold the towel over them to cover, place another sheet pan on top, and weight it down – a heavy pot or a few cans of tomatoes work well. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
If your sweetbreads are large, slice them into medallions. Spread the flour on a plate and season with lots of salt and pepper, then toss the sweetbreads in the seasoned flour until well coated on all sides.
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed skillet and cook the sweetbreads over medium heat until golden brown. Place the browned sweetbreads on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside, tenting loosely with foil to keep warm.
Whisk the tablespoon of lemon juice with a pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the olive oil in a small bowl until emulsified. Add the capers, celery leaves and parsley and stir to combine.
Place the sweetbreads on a serving plate, and drizzle the sauce all around. Finish with a little flaky salt if desired.
Sweetbreads & Bacon
- 1 lb. calf's or lamb's sweetbreads
- 1/2 lb. tomatoes, sliced & peeled or 1 tin
- 1 c. water or stock
- 1 lb. streaky bacon rashers (slices)
- 1 sm. onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
- Salt & pepper
Soak the sweetbreads in cold salted water for at least 30 minutes.
Change the water, salt it and bring them to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes.
Strain and let them get cold, then remove any skin or membrane.
Take the rind from the rashers and wrap each sweetbread in the bacon. (If the sweetbreads are not all the same size, cut them accordingly.)
Put in a lightly greased oven-proof dish. Season well and add the onion, tomatoes and stock.
Sprinkle with parsley and cook in a moderate oven (350 degrees electric; gas regulo 3-4) for 35 to 40 minutes.
If any of the bacon is not utilized, roll into curls and grill them. Use these crisp bacon rolls as garnish on top of the sweetbreads when serving.