Animelle al Marsala coi Carciofi

Sweetbreads With Marsala and Artichokes

The elegantly mild flavor of sweetbreads is set off in this recipe by a judicious dose of the earthier tastes of artichokes and ham. The artichokes are cooked separately, in olive oil. The ham, sautéed in butter, serves as a flavor base for browning the sweetbreads. The sweetbreads are diced to reduce the browning time and to create more surfaces that absorb flavor. Marsala is used at the end to temper, with its sweetness, the artichokes’ astringency and promote a smooth conjunction with the sweetbreads.


  • 4 large artichokes
  • Freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 pound fresh sweetbreads, preferably from the thymus rather than the pancreas
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons onion chopped fine
  • ¼ pound boiled, unsmoked ham, cut into narrow strips
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • ½ cup dry Marsala


  1. Clean the artichokes as described, then cut them into 1-inch wedges and keep them in water acidulated with the lemon juice.
  2. Place the sweetbreads in a bowl with enough water to cover amply and let soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, add fresh water, and strip the sweetbreads of as much of their enveloping membrane as possible.
  3. In a pot put sufficient water to cover the sweetbreads later. Bring the water to a boil. Add the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of salt. When the water returns to a boil, put in the sweetbreads. Cook the sweetbreads for 10 minutes after the water returns to a boil, then drain.
  4. When the sweetbreads are cool enough to handle, remove any of the remaining outer membrane.
  5. Drain the artichoke wedges and rinse them in fresh water.
  6. Put the artichokes and the olive oil in a saucepan and turn on the heat to medium. Brown the artichokes very lightly for 1 to 2 minutes, then add ¼ cup of water and cover the pan. Cook for 20 minutes or more, depending on the youth and freshness of the artichokes, until they are tender all the way through when pricked with a fork. If, while they are cooking, they need additional liquid, add 2 tablespoons of water. When they are done, however, there should be no liquid left in the pan except for the oil. When cooked, sprinkle with salt, turn them, and remove from the heat.
  7. Dice the sweetbreads into 1-inch cubes.
  8. In a large skillet or sauté pan put the butter and onion and turn on the heat to medium.
  9. When the onion becomes translucent, add the ham strips. Brown them lightly for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  10. Add the diced sweetbreads and turn up the heat to high. Turn the sweetbreads over frequently and, as soon as they are browned evenly, add salt and grindings of pepper, turn them once or twice, then add the Marsala.
  11. When the Marsala has boiled away, add the artichokes. Turn several times to mix the artichokes with the contents of the pan, lower the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook for 30 minutes. Serve piping hot.