Sweetbreads have long been out of fashion for the home cook. But to my mind, and some famous chefs, they’re wonderful to eat – especially if you don’t know where they came from. They are essentially the thymus gland of an animal, which can be found in the throat, oesophagus and neck. It can also include the pancreas, which is found near the stomach. The ones I bought from my butcher were from lamb and were thymus glands. They are sweet when cooked, which may explain how they got their name. Sweetbreads have been around since the 16th century and it’s thought the “sweet” referred to the taste of the organ and “bread” may have come from the word “brede”, which is an Old English term for flesh or meat.
|4 cups||Chicken stock|
|1 cm||Lard, dripping or oil, heated|
To prepare Crumbed sweetbreads:
- It’s very important to soak the sweetbreads first. Rinse them under water in a colander, then put them in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave them in the fridge overnight, changing the water several times. They are ready to use when the water runs clear.
- Put the stock in a pot and bring it to the boil. Place the sweetbreads in the hot broth and poach for 15 minutes.
- When they’re ready, tip them into a colander, drain and let them sit until cool. Some people like to skin the sweetbreads at this stage, but I just left mine.
- Dip the sweetbreads in beaten egg and then into breadcrumbs. Fry in hot lard, dripping or oil and serve immediately.
To prepare Sweetbread fritters:
- Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Slowly add beaten egg and milk, mixing to make a smooth batter.
- Beat well, then stir in the grated or chopped sweetbreads.
- Heat the oil or butter, then fry the fritters in tablespoonfuls.