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Apr 13, 2008 02:04 PM

Sweetbreads for the Uninitiated

My best friend and I are headed to wine country near the Russian River in northern California in a couple of weeks. We have reservations at what appears to be a lovely little French bistro type restaurant one night (Mierpoix in Windsor, CA). The menu looks wonderful...from mussels to foie gras to frites to....sweatbreads.

I read a couple of posts on various travel sites that said Mirepoix makes excellent sweetbreads. They serve them braised with frites and maitre d'butter. For a few dollars more you can add sauce bordelaise. Sounds intriguing. My problem? I've never had sweetbreads.

For some reason I'm really tempted to try this dish. But I would hate to order something I ended up really disliking. I'm not a picky eater. The only thing I don't really like are beets (they taste like dirt to me!). I'm fine with tongue and pates and chicken liver (I've never had beef liver). I've even had turkey "rocky mountain oysters" and thought they were great!

What would I expect with sweetbreads? The texture is very soft, isn't it? What about flavor? Any descriptions that might give me a better idea would be greatly appreciated...from both folks who like them and folks who don't.

I know there's no real way of knowing without trying for myself, but I thought this might be an interesting discussion.


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  1. As you say, a soft texture. The flavour is quite mild; a bit creamy. I think a sauce bordelaise would overpower them and, if it was me, would stick with the butter.

    I'm not passionate about them. Happy enough to eat them as part of, say, a tasting menu. Might order them as a starter (say on some salad). Wouldnt order as a main.

    1. I love them. Order them whenever I can. Soft? Yes. Taste? A bit like liver, but somewhat less intense. Guessing that if you like chicken liver (unless you're talking about a preparation like chopped liver that masks both texture and flavor) you might well like sweetbreads. Beef liver might be a better test. Why not cook yourself some before you go and see whether or not you like it?

      1. The texture to me is like a cross of soft tofu, and custard. More on the tofu side, IMHO. The 2 times i've had sweetbreads they were out of this world delicious, and it was also my first time ever to eat organ meat. I love it! The tase was very mild and non-offensive. I'd rush to order it again and again! I don't think you'll be dissappointed.

        1. I love sweetbreads, I've been serving and eating them for for 30 years now.
          My favorite way to eat them is first blanched,sliced, then lightly floured and pan fried crispy. At that point I find them to taste remenisant of crisp bacon with a creamy center.
          Give them a try, I hope you enjoy them.

          2 Replies
          1. re: chefstu

            Creamy and ...meaty, in an intriguingly gentle way. BTW, Chefstu...mention of flouring those slices of sweetbreads reminded me that I've been experimenting with using potato flour for some meats...I'll bet it'd work pretty well with sweetbreads.

            1. re: chefstu

              Hey Chefstu, my husband and I just returned from Neuvo Vallarta, north of Puerto Vallarta, and ate at our favorite restaurant near the resort; La Portena, an Argentinian steak house. We love the place (ate there 2 days in a row) and I figured we would try the 'argentinian style sweetbreads'. I had seen the ingredients on an Iron Chef and thought ...'why not'. I can only say....FANTASTIC! We all ate the appetizer with abandon and got over quickly where the meat actually came from. I am eager to make it but need some help. The method I think closest to what I have read is sliced thin and cooked on an open fire. That is how this place cooked, over open wood fires. Can you give some detail as to how you have prepared it over the many years you have cooked it. Please be specific on prep as well. I want to be successful in my early attempt. Thanks!

            2. Fried sweetbreads remind me of Chicken McNuggets (the old style "chicken loaf" kind) except with a softer texture inside and a stronger taste.