Regardless of how sweetbreads are cooked—they’re usually braised or sautéed—they first undergo a blanching and weighting process to compact them. Sweetbreads come in two forms. One, long and a bit ragged, is called in French the gorge, meaning “throat,” while the other, compact and spheroid, is called the noix, meaning “nut.” Always choose the noix, which will look neater on the plate and braise more evenly.
The most frequently made mistake when preparing this dish is adding too much liquid for braising. Keep in mind that the liquid released from the sweetbreads should be allowed to caramelize. It has a flavor of its own that shouldn’t be compromised with the addition of large amounts of stock or other liquids.
|sweetbreads, preferably noix pieces|
|carrot, cut into small dice|
|garlic clove, minced|
|glace de viande (optional)|
|salt and pepper||to taste||to taste|
This technique for braising sweetbreads and building a sauce is almost universal, but various ingredients can be added to the sauce minutes before serving to give it a different character. Chiffonade of sorrel, chopped fines herbes, sautéed fresh or reconstituted dried cèpes (porcini mushrooms), morels, and truffles are just a few possibilities. In the early twentieth century, sweetbreads were often served à la financière with truffles, chicken quenelles, and cockscombs. It’s also possible to use a brunoise of carrots and turnips along with the minced onions to braise the sweetbreads and then use this as part of the garniture. Michel Guérard serves a dish of sweetbreads in which the sweetbreads are separated into pieces—virtually all the connective membrane is removed—and the braised pieces served in a sauce made with morels and truffles. Wedges of artichoke bottoms are served with the sweetbreads to provide a subtly contrasting texture.
Copyright © 2017 by James Peterson. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.