There are a few gourmands who will swear to the great desirability of sweetbreads, including Ryan Adams, who blogs at eatmedaily.com. He claims, "What keeps the sweetbread from gaining popularity in home cooking is the fact that they require a fair amount of fiddling with before you can actually get down to the process of cooking them. There is a thick membrane that needs to be peeled away, which is a bit more of an art form than technique. The goal is to keep the meaty nodules together with only a little bit of membrane covering to keep them intact." So it's only a matter of mastering the art of membrane removal that stands between me and the true pleasure of sweetbreads? I think not, Ryan. One look at the photo that heads your "Offal of the Week" column on sweetbreads (http://www.eatmedaily.com/2009/06/offal-of-the-week-sweetbreads) is all it took to keep sweetbreads from ever being popular with me. Actually, just the idea that they are recommended by someone who writes an "Offal of the Week" feature is enough to permanently take them off my plate.
On the off-chance that, despite my warnings, you are willing to take Ryan at his word, and if the picture from his blog doesn't make you queasy, give this recipe a try. Don't say I didn't warn you.
*****NOTE: RECIPE IS FOLLOWED BY A PHOTO OF OFFENSIVE OFFAL. THOSE WHO ARE EASILY NAUSEATED MAY WISH TO REFRAIN FROM SCROLLING FURTHER.*****
SWEETBREADS AND HAM
1 pair calf sweetbreads
1 TBS. minced onion
3 TBS. butter
3 TBS. flour
3/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
1/2 tsp. kitchen bouquet
1/2 cup light cream
1 3-oz. can sliced, broiled mushrooms [never heard of these!]
1 cup julienne sliced cooked ham
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. dry mustard
Cover sweetbreads with water, let stand 15 minutes. Carefully remove thin outer membrane [remember to be artful!]. Place in saucepan and cover with cold water, adding 1 tsp. salt and 1 TBS. vinegar per quart. Bring to boil with TCTB dial set at 225 degrees F. Reset dial to 200 degrees and simmer 15 minutes. Drain; plunge sweetbreads into ice water. Cook onion in butter with TCTB dial set at 275 degrees F. Stir in flour. Add wine, kitchen bouquet, cream and mushrooms. Reset dial to 212 degrees F. Cook and stir until sauce thickens. Add ham, seasonings and quartered sweetbreads. Heat thoroughly. Makes 4 servings.