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Scared of sweetbreads! Any help?

  • l

Okay, so first Stephanie and Richard of Top Chef prepare two delicious looking (and sounding) sweetbread meals, and now I find out the restaurant I am going to tomorrow night offers them. To be specific, the dish is: Braised veal sweetbreads, morel mushrooms, braised carrots and rosemary au gratin potatoes. Now, I consider myself to be a very open-minded eater, and I will try almost anything once. But, for some reason thymus glands make me a little nervous. So tell me- are they worth the hype? This restaurant has AMAZING food- should I take a chance and pass up one of my fave dishes to try sweetbreads? What are they like? What is your favorite preparation?

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  1. please forget the words thymus and gland for a few hours......it should be worth it.
    My favorite preperation so far was sweetbreads in an amazing demi - with a polenta cake stuffed with grogonzola. I was a bit sceptical my first time - but was I glad I did - I can still remember my first bite.

    1. I just had my first sweetbread this past Saturday. (It was off my husbands plate) We watched Top Chef and have been hearing the hype and had to try them as well.

      We had them breaded and (I think) pan fried and served w/ enoki velute or something similar to that. There were a lot of mushroom on the plate as as well, with fava beans.

      The sweet bread texture is firm and moist. Almost like fried chicken, and it has a mild flavor, almost like fried chicken, again. So yes, Stephanie was right when she described them like tasty little nuggets.

      I cannot place it exactly, but it is very mild, and teh texture is plesant. I have only been eating meat for a year, so I don't know what to compair it too exactly. I think it picked up a lot of the oil it was cooked in, making it very savory.

      My husband loved it. I am glad we tried it. (This was at Ansill in Philadelphia BTW)

      Oh, I wanted to mention, it wasn't stratified muscle like steak or chicken, it was more like a lump of meat.

      1. sweetbreads have a very rich, earthy flavor. and don't forget, there's a reason why predatory animals go for these parts first after the kill.

        this is why I wish restaurants offered "tastes" for a fee. not looking for a giveaway, just may not want to commit to a full entree if it's something I don't know.

        1. Prepared well, IMO they have a butteriness many (not all) organ meats lack, without all that iron flavor. If you didn't know what they were you wouldn't necessarily be suspicious, let's put it that way. As compared to, say, liver.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tatamagouche

            tatamagouche: that's a good way of putting it, not as dense and not as ferrous (aren't I clever?) as liver.

            I thought about a liver comparison, but there is none.

            I was trepidatious the first coupla times, but was in the good hands of basic French and Italian places run by time honored families.

          2. I eat some stuff that many people don't like - liver, heart, tongue, tail, hock (pigs foot, or beef foot).
            When I tried sweetbreads, I was not a fan.
            It was prepared in a braising liquid. The flavor of the sauce was very good. I didn't care for the consistency of the sweetbreads themselves, nor the flavor.
            I tried them later breaded and fried. The crispy exterior helped the texture somewhat (although the inside was still very creamy), but the flavor just wasn't for me.
            Was I hung up on 'thynus' and 'gland'? Maybe...but the flavor just didn't overwhelm me to order it again...I think its due to personel taste.
            Same thing for Foie Gras. I like pork and beef liver and have no trouble with organ meat, but I simply don't care for foie gras.
            So personnally, I don't think the sweetbreads are worth the hype (then again, I never got the scotch thing either...).
            But do try it yourself, and you be the judge.

            1. If they are anything close to NO's Bayona, (served with a lemon caper sauce) you will love them. Please give them a try and report back!

              1. If thymus gland makes you nervous, then think of pancreas. Equally delicious.

                  1. re: mrbozo

                    I recognize the pun. I wouldn't think of sweetbreads as offal! If you ever worked in a packing house (as I did) the only thing that went down the offal chute was stuff that had no value other than to be rendered into fat for soap. Blood (blood meal, hog intestines (caseings), etc. were saved. I'm sure it also depends on what kind of packing house at the animals are being processed. (high volume, what species) but all in all, there's not as much offal as one might think!

                    1. re: SonyBob

                      Just pulling your pancreas ;) Us Estonians ain't shy about innards. Heck blood sausage is a favorite of mine (usually served at Christmas).

                      1. re: mrbozo

                        Janis Rainis is the poet laurete pf Latvia, have you read him, just for the halibut? Riga is a kick donkey medieval city w/ offaly good restaurants.

                  2. It's all in your head, Luna4, in your head. Food attitudes are culturally based. Ham is the pig's ass. Pork is reviled from Morocco to Bali and most points in between. What's in a hot dog? Ever read a microscopic analysis of breakfast sausage? Fly bits and rat turds. If you don't want the sweatbreads, can I go in your place? Next tackle munedo!

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: RicRios

                        I have enough menudo in my life to be an honorary member of the band!

                    1. that preparations sounds wonderful. jfood is VERY jealous.

                      The best wayto eat the first few bites on sweetbreads is with your eyes closed, chewing very slowly to appreciate the texture, the flavor, the sweetness the richness, they are just great.

                      It's not an anatomy lesson. forget about geography and enjoy the little morsels of pleasure.

                      1. Braised veal sweetbreads, morel mushrooms, braised carrots and rosemary au gratin potatoes.

                        I'll take your place

                        1. Sweetbtreads are divine.One of my favorite parts of the parrillada at Mercado Buenos Aires.Can't get enough of them.Worth every bit of hype!