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Mar 28, 2008 04:05 PM

What is a Sweetbread?

I am not talking about anything involving flour - I am talking about the kind that comes from a cow. Is it a gland? Some other organ, what is it?


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    1. It is the thymus gland. Preferably from a calf. traditionally parboiled, then peeled, then braised, with a demi glace sauce. also pan fried in a light flouring and served with a buerre brun. The taste is similar to lamb fries, with a springy texture. Ris de Veau Financier is a classic French prep.

      13 Replies
      1. re: chazzerking

        Hmm, are lots of people going to have "lamb fries" as a familiar reference point, I wonder?

        Lately I have been noticing sweetbreads in the supermarket a lot. About 30 euros/kg. So far I have not been tempted.

        1. re: DeppityDawg

          Yep. Familiar and accurate reference point.

          I wish we could get sweetbreads at 30Eu/kg. Just never see them at all in the supermarkets in northwest England.

          1. re: Harters

            It's amazing how expensive sweetbreads in Europe are -- where they are considered a delicacy. At our local Wegmans, you can get them for much less (I don't see a lot of people buying them, though -- well, other than me :-D); although the exact price escapes me right now....

            I'd eat it more often if the man were into it as much as I am. Bummer.

            1. re: linguafood

              I want to cook these for the first time this month for the Hopkinson COTM - any tips on making sure they are fresh/good etc. when buying them?

              1. re: MMRuth

                I don't know if they're actually a 'seasonal' item, though they do come from calves -- which really screws with my "i don't eat veal' mantra... duh.

                Anyway. I would definitely get them fresh, not frozen. In the past, I have not parboiled them, though it might make getting the skins off a little easier.

                Then I just bread with a bit of flour, s&p, and off to the pan they go. They cook fairly fast, and once you have a nice golden-brown crust, they are probably done -- you don't want to overcook them. A few squeezes of lemon cut through the richness.

                I am sure there are much more interesting preps, but this is the only way I've done it, and I haven't found a need to improve it.


                1. re: MMRuth

                  yea Ruth! My Hopkinson and all foods pioneer! (blazing the trail for me). I read about Hoppy(!) and that book is a great choice!
                  I've only had sweetbreads at good french restaurants. But you're in NYC, non? In which case I would suspect one of the many fine meat stores would carry them. I think they're supposed to be white and not yellowish.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    As with anything like this, you need absolute freshness. So, I would only buy from a trusted source that I knew moved their stock quickly (which means I wouldnt dismiss a supermarket over a butcher).


                    (PS: I likeWegmans - it's the only US supermarket I've been able to properly prowl round when on a trip to visit family in upstate NY)

                    1. re: Harters

                      I'm a big Wegman's fan, which unfortunately is not in my area. A friend took me to hers in Syracuse and I wandered down every single aisle. Then I went on a work trip to Rochester and took my foodie friend to their flagship store and . .. she wandered down every aisle.. I eventually told her I'd meet her outside. That store is great.

                      1. re: NYchowcook

                        The one I know is at Corning - still makes me chuckle to think of the very familiar everyday British items there on the "speciality foreign" aisle.

                        1. re: Harters

                          As I chuckled years ago at Harvey Nichols to see the price of oreos etc. (grin)!

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            Funny you should mention oreos. There was a TV advert for them only last night - first time I'd seen one

            2. re: chazzerking

              A classic preparation of sweetbreads from western North American Cow Country is deep fried battered sweetbreads.. about as far from Ris de Veau Financier as you can get! More like Ris de Veau Truckstop.

              1. re: fromagina

                I first had them at an Italian place sauteed and minced into a white sauce pasta.