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Butchers with Sweetbreads

  • k

I am searching for butcher shops that carry sweetbreads and other modern 'offal'. Preferably only in SF proper, but I'll head out to Oakland if I must.

Thanks.

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  1. You might call around the upscale markets (bryan's, mollie Stone, Andronico's, Draegers, etc). Usually it is kept frozen, due to perishability. I bought some sweetbreads at Mollie Stone's a few months ago...rather shocked at the price (around $6 lb).

    12 Replies
    1. re: Jim H.
      c
      ChowFun (derek)

      I also have searched in the past and found frozen (so unacceptable to me) ones at Andronicos....if you do find fresh ones, please let us know!

      1. re: ChowFun (derek)

        I don't think you'll find fresh ones...they are too perishable and in low demand. I doubt if you even see them displayed in the meat case for that reason. In an industry that passes off top sirloin as "chateaubriand" I don't trust the claims of freshness.

        1. re: Jim H.
          c
          ChowFun (derek)

          You're probably right...I've tried for years to find fresh ones (in NY they were wrapped and out in the fridge just like steak!)..I've tried Tower, Bryans, Andronico's...no luck....

          1. re: ChowFun (derek)

            Sadly, sweetbreads seem to have fallen out of favor. There has been a feeling that you eat a few sweetbreads and fall over dead from a cholesterol attack...same with chicken livers. There was a time when every good Italian restaurant had sauteed sweetbreads or chicken livers...usually with mushrooms. And marsala. I suppose if they get popular again, we will find them fresh. A suggestion. If you find some, soak, parboil and trim. Shrink wrap with a Food Saver and keep frozen for several months. Freeze in small portions.

            1. re: Jim H.
              c
              ChowFun (derek)

              You can still find them sauteed that way at most of the "Joe's"

              1. re: ChowFun (derek)

                Yeah...I often get them at Original Joe's...but I prefer them battered or floured and crispy first...then sauteed. The best I ever had was years ago at La Burgoign (sp)...crispy and flambeed in brandy.

          2. re: Jim H.
            r
            Robert Lauriston

            Fresh sweetbreads are readily available, albeit in limited quantities, from any of the many halal butchers who break down whole lambs.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Hey...that's great. If you want lamb sweetbreads.

              1. re: Jim H.
                c
                ChowFun (derek)

                Hallal butchers must have beef too??!! Just not pork (do pigs have sweetbreads...maybe 'sweet and sour breads')
                Then again Kosher butchers would too....I'll call and see...

                1. re: ChowFun (derek)
                  r
                  Robert Lauriston

                  Halal butchers always have beef, but it usually comes in as sides or quarters rather than whole animals.

                  1. re: ChowFun (derek)

                    I may sound a bit picky, but I doubt you will find any commercial sweetbreads other than veal. I don't think I've ever seen beef, pork or lamb sweetbreads (except maybe at a meat packers). These days its hard enough to sell veal SB without risking a market for exotic "offal". There may be specialty shops catering to ethnic tastes...certain Greek kabobs, for example.

                    1. re: Jim H.
                      r
                      Robert Lauriston

                      If by "commercial" you mean from Safeway, maybe not, but any fancy butcher should have a provider from which it can special-order lamb sweetbreads.

        2. "modern" offal? Animals don't change that fast and people have been eating all the parts of animals for a very long time. If you are talking popular, sweetbreads have been popular for a very long time (much longer than either of our lifetimes).

          1. r
            Robert Lauriston

            I shopped around a lot for a couple of offal dinners I had last year, and found by far the best quality, selection, and prices at my local halal butcher. I go to Indus Foods in Berkeley, but I believe there are two or three similar butchers in SF.

            1. Any unusual meat requirements, Chinatown is a place to start. Tendon, duck legs, chicken feet, several intimate parts of a bull, all there in the butcher's case at that place at 7th and Broadway in Oakland.

              1. They have both western and white sweetbreats.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Justin
                  c
                  ChowFun (derek)

                  I called, (very nice on the phone) they have frozen not fresh.

                2. I use thymus glands for science experiments for my high school biology class that I teach (they happen to by loaded with DNA). I order them from a butcher shop at the corner of Cole and Parnassus (I forget the name). I don't remember them being expensive.

                  1. Maybe pork sweetbreads are hard to find because the thymus gland almost disappears in mammals at puberty. Veal, lamb, maybe piglet, yes; beef, mutton, or pork sweetbreads, I'm guessing no.