Sweetbread Risotto

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

A Taste of Dreams

A Taste of Dreams

By Josceline Dimbleby

Published 1976

  • About

All the books say that you must first soak the sweetbreads in cold salted water for 2–4 hours, drain them and then bring them to the boil with fresh water and a squeeze of lemon. Then you should drain and let them go cold and take off any surplus skin before using. I have cooked them without any preparation at all and they seem to taste just as good, so you can do what you feel like. In any case they make a delicious and less usual risotto, with their mild buttery flavour. Use the short-grain Italian rice they use for risotto if you can get it, otherwise any short-grain rice.


  • 1 lb lambsβ€² sweetbreads (450 g)
  • 1 breakfast cup rice
  • 2Β½ cups salted water
  • pinch saffron – or 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 large onion
  • Β½ lb mushrooms (225 g)
  • 1 tablespoon oregano or thyme
  • salt, black pepper
  • olive oil


Cook the rice first – bring the salted water to the boil, then stir in the rice and the saffron or turmeric, put a lid on the pan and simmer gently for 10–20 minutes, according to the type of rice used, but be sure to test it to see it does not get over-cooked. It ought still to have a slight nutty bite to it – what is known in Italy as al dente’. Strain the rice into a sieve and run hot water through it. Put it into a covered bowl with a knob or two of butter in a very low oven while you cook the rest of the ingredients. Chop up the pepper and the onion into small pieces. Fry these in a large pan until just tender in a little olive oil and butter. Transfer to the rice dish. Slice the mushrooms thinly across in mushroom shapes, add more olive oil and butter to the pan and fry very gently until the mushrooms are only just soft. Transfer them to the rice dish. Chop up the sweetbreads into very small pieces. (If you like you can be cooking them in another pan while you fiy the vegetables.) Melt 1–2 oz butter (25–50 g) in the pan and gently fry the sweetbreads in it, tossing them about a lot for 3–5 minutes. Transfer them and the butter in the pan to the dish with the other ingredients. Salt and pepper and mix all well together. You can keep this risotto warm in a very low oven for an hour or two if you want to. Serve with a salad.