Is the amount of pancreas or thymus gland in your diet not sufficient? Do you want to beef it up? Well, there is one dish which you can gorge upon and not even feel guilty because you would be getting that dose of thymus and pancreas in your diet! I think by now you might have what I am alluding to! Yes, I am making a reference to none other than the delicious sweetbreads! These are not to be confused with sweet meat and sweetbread, to be specific, are pancreas and thymus of a calf, lamb or a piglet (under 1 year old). These are also categorized or classified as offals in culinary jargon and set up. In case this has not satisfied your hunger to know more about sweetbreads, what are they and the likes, the text to come is for you!
Sweetbreads - What are They?
The name sweetbread is entirely different from what it actually is and the etymology of the word might be a possible explanation of the name. The word has supposedly originated from old English and since the taste of thymus is rich and sweet, it might be called sweet. The bread must have come from the old English word 'braed', referring to flesh. Moving on, though, sweetbreads are also known by the name 'ris'. The thymus is referred to as throat sweetbread and the pancreas is known as heart or stomach sweetbread. Most often than not these are derived from a calf and lamb. The heart sweetbread is spherical in shape and throat sweetbread surrounds them, which are cylindrical in shape. Beef sweetbreads are also eaten, but less as compared to calf and lamb's.
Preparing sweetbreads meat is the first step before making any delicacy out of sweetbread. Begin with soaking the sweetbreads in cold water for several hours at least. Sometimes it is even kept for 24 hours. This is essential to remove any possible traces of blood and it helps in having a sweetbread which has a mild taste. Once this is done, blanching needs to be done. For blanching, they have to be kept in a pot, covered with cold water. A good idea would be put a touch of salt, vinegar and lemon juice to the water. Boil the mixture. In case there are stomach sweetbreads, let them simmer for a few minutes. After this is done, remove the sweetbreads and put them in ice water. This process helps to get rid of the impurities further after the initial soaking. It also leads to firming of the tissue to enable easy trimming and sectioning.
Further, to trim, get rid of any veins which are visible along with gristle. In addition to that, do not forget to remove the thick exterior membrane covering the organ. Once this is done, the sweetbread has to be pressed. For that, they have to be laid on a clean towel on a shallow pan or a tray. Avoid stacking the wheat breads and once a layer is done, put another towel on the top of the first layer. Eventually cover it using a tray or pan of the same size. Now on top of this last tray, put a heavy weight. Put this whole thing in the refrigerator for a minimum of couple of hours. Finally, once the sweetbreads are pressed well, they would be firm enough and ready to be sliced into a desirable shape. Sweetbreads recipe then can be prepared by frying, sauteing or grilling. A sweet bread recipe can be enhanced further with a classic white or brown sauce.
Sweetbreads, all in all is a very special dish and is considered to be delicacy. The amount of processing and handling it needs, I guess says why it is a delicacy! Although, there is nothing sweet about it! Bon Appetit!