Sweetbreads and mushrooms was one of the first dishes I made in my home in the Laurentian mountains in Canada, after I’d found golden chanterelles at the summer-only local farmers market, and bought veal sweetbreads from the local artisanal butcher.

Of course, you can make it anywhere and you can use any kind of mushroom works in this recipe.

Oh and while sweetbreads are organ meat, they are not testicles (you won’t believe the number of times I’ve had that “eww testicles” response when I mentioned ‘sweetbreads’); they are a thymus gland that can come from either throat or stomach (some will say ‘heart’ as the gland is somewhere in between stomach and heart).

BASIC PREPARATION

This is a basic prep for sweetbreads, based on what I saw a French chef do (once upon a time):

Soak the sweetbreads in ice water for at least 2 hours. It draws out impurities.

Bring water to a boil, add a bay leaf and perhaps some fresh herbs. Add the sweetbreads and poach (not quite boiling) for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, prepare an ice water bowl. Take the sweetbreads out with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water bowl.

When cooled, take the clumps of sweetbread and clean: remove the outer membranes and any hard pieces of tissue. Keep the clumps as whole as you can (so don’t remove membranes that hold it together). It sounds trickier than it is, really.

Depending on how you like your sweetbreads, cut them into smaller pieces or slices and proceed.

One favorite summer way is to skewer the sweetbreads, brushed with olive oil and seasoned well, and grill them over open campfire!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 pound poached and cleaned sweetbreads, sliced or cut smaller
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour (or enough to dust the sweetbreads)
  • 1 shallot, diced fine
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 splash white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup good, organic chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup assorted mushrooms, sautéed and ready to use

Melt the butter in a skillet. Season the sweetbreads with salt and pepper (to taste) and dust them with flour. When the butter is foaming and beginning to brown, add the sweetbreads and fry crisp on all sides. This takes about 5-7 minutes (remember: they are poached already so no longer raw). Transfer sweetbreads to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain.

In the same pan, stir the shallots until soft, add the garlic. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan and cook out. Add the mustard and enough of the stock to get a thickened sauce. Add the mushrooms and parsley, and finally mix in the sweetbreads.

Plate and serve!

Serves 2 as main course | 4 as appetizer