To Prepare Sweetbreads

The sweetbreads we buy are either the very expensive calves’ sweetbreads from the wholesale butcher, or the rather more reasonably priced lambs’ sweetbreads from the summer lambs, which are sold by the local butcher.

Whichever sort you buy, sweetbreads need first to be soaked in cold water for about 2 hours to dissolve any bloody patches. Drain well then put the sweetbreads into a pan with enough chicken stock to cover and a little salt. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently until tender. The larger calves’ sweetbreads will take about 30 minutes, while smaller lambs’ sweetbreads need only 15 or so minutes. Test by piercing with a kitchen fork – the juices that run out should be clear rather than pink. Leave the sweetbreads to cool in the stock.

Calves’ sweetbreads often have fat and sinew that will need to be removed, and sometimes the lambs’ sweetbreads need to be trimmed of fat as well. Once the sweetbreads are cool and have been trimmed, if necessary, drain and lay them out on a tray. Put another tray on top and weight down with light weights or tins. Leave under the weights for 2–3 hours – this makes them easier to slice.

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