Sweetbreads

Almost everyone these days cooks sweetbreads for a finished dish from the raw state, a practice that shortchanges their potential flavor and texture and gives them a bad reputation. If you braise them first on a flavorful bed of aromatic vegetable mix and fresh herbs, the sweetbreads take on a more complex flavor as well as a smooth and unctuous texture.

Any sweetbread preparation must begin with soaking and then braising, and sweetbreads taste even more wonderful if cooked the day before serving them.

Ingredients

  • 4 large whole fresh sweetbreads(2–3 pounds)
  • 2 lemons, cut in half
  • 2 cups fine aromatic vegetable mix
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 cups chicken, beef, or veal stock
  • ½ cup dry white wine

Method

Soak the sweetbreads in cold salty water for 2 hours, changing the water whenever it becomes bloody. Drain them and put them in a 4-quart pot. Add cold water to cover them by 2 inches, squeeze the lemons into the water and then add the squeezed lemons, and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, and leave for 15 minutes. Drain the sweetbreads and put them in a colander, cover with ice, and run cold water over them for 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the vegetable mix, bay leaves, and thyme and parsley sprigs in a casserole just large enough to hold the sweetbreads side by side. Cover and cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Put the sweetbreads on top of the vegetable mix in the casserole, pour the stock and wine over the top and season the sweetbreads lightly. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and bake covered for 45 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven.

Lift out the sweetbreads, brush off any vegetable mix clinging to them, put them in a bowl, and strain the cooking liquid over them. Let them cool in the liquid.

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