Sweetbreads, also known as calves’ brains, livers, tongues, or the tongue itself, have been eaten since ancient times.
This tasty treat has been considered a delicacy by many cultures across the globe.
The most common way to prepare them is to clean out the organs from an animal’s head (usually cows) and then simmer them in water until they become tender.
Sweetbreads may be prepared using various techniques depending on what part of the organ is used.
For example, if one uses only the brain portion, they will boil the entire thing before removing the meaty bits and serving.
If only the tongue is used, it would simply be simmered without being cut into pieces.
When cooked properly, sweetbreads taste like pork liver but unlike beef liver, which is a bit fatty, sweetbreads are leaner because they contain no fat whatsoever.
In addition to tasting great, sweetbreads are also very healthy because they’re chock full of iron, calcium, vitamin B12, zinc, copper, phosphorus, protein, and more vitamins than just about anything else you might eat.
They’re also high in cholesterol, so please consume this dish responsibly!
In this article we’ll explore how to prepare sweetbreads and share some tips for making the dish even better.
What Ingredients Do You Need To Make Sweetbreads?
For the sweetbreads recipe below, you’ll need:
1 calf’s head
2 pounds of veal stock
4 ounces of salt
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of black pepper
1 quart of water
A few bay leaves
5 garlic cloves
You also need a small frying pan, a large pot, and a pair of tongs.
As always, when working with raw meats, wash your hands thoroughly before handling them.
How Long Does It Take To Cook Sweetbreads?
The time required for sweetbreads depends largely on the size of the individual parts that were removed from the cow’s skull.
For instance, if only the tongue was used in the recipe above, it would require less time than if both the tongue and the brain had been combined.
But keep in mind that all parts of the sweetbreads must be fully cooked at least three hours prior to eating.
If not, the proteins within the tissues will begin breaking down due to heat damage.
Is It Difficult To Make Sweetbreads?
Making sweetbreads is actually quite simple.
All you have to do is remove the organs from the cow’s head and place them in boiling water until they reach the desired level of doneness.
Once done, you can strain off the liquid and serve the meaty bits right away.
You can use the broth to enhance flavor profiles in soups, stews, sauces, and gravies.
Alternatively, you can freeze the broth for future use.
Just add water and bring it back to a low boil before adding the rest of the ingredients.
What Temperature Should The Oven Be Set To Make Sweetbreads?
To cook sweetbreads, set the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
At this temperature the meat will remain moist while the skin becomes crispy and golden brown.
Be sure to adjust the setting slightly depending on whether or not the sweetbreads are going to be sliced.
Is There A Special Technique For Preparing Sweetbreads?
There isn’t really a specific method for cutting up the soft tissue of the sweetbreads.
Some people prefer to slice the meat along the grain whereas others opt for slicing against the grain.
Either way works fine though.
What Other Dishes Are Commonly Served With Sweetbreads?
Since sweetbreads are mostly made from cow brains, most traditionalists feel that consuming these foods makes one somewhat unhygienic.
However, the truth is that there aren’t any serious health risks involved with having these types of meals.
That said, if you want to avoid any potential risk, stick to recipes that include lots of vegetables and fruits.
How Should Sweetbreads Be Stored After Cooking?
Once the sweetbreads are cleaned, trimmed, and ready to go, store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
Since they’re usually sold frozen, you won’t have to worry too much about spoilage.
Are There Any Health Benefits Associated With Sweetbreads?
Yes, there are plenty of positive things that come from eating sweetbreads such as improved immunity.
These foods help strengthen the body’s natural defenses against disease and illness.
Of course, if you are suffering from certain conditions, you should consult your doctor first before deciding to incorporate sweetbreads into your diet plan.
What Type Of Pan Is Best For Baking Sweetbreads?
Any skillet or sauté pan will work nicely for this task.
A nonstick surface ensures that the meat doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan during cooking.
Another advantage of using a nonstick pan is that the oil left over from the process helps prevent sticking once the meat is finished.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular ways you can enjoy sweetbreads.
Fried sweetbreads — Serve fried sweetbreads as a snack or appetizer alongside dipping sauce or tartar sauce, or use them as a topping for sandwiches or salads.
Sautéed sweetbreads — Sautéing sweetbreads is another wonderful option that allows you to get maximum flavor from each bite.
To do this, sear the meat in hot vegetable oil or butter until it turns golden brown.
Then transfer the meat to a bowl and cover it with a warm marinade or glaze.
Let the meat soak up the flavor while waiting for dinner to arrive.
Creamed sweetbreads — Creamed sweetbreads are similar to mashed potatoes except instead of potato flour, cream is added.
Add milk, butter, and seasonings to taste.
Make sure to mash the mixture well before proceeding.
Baked sweetbreads — Bake sweetbreads covered in a light dusting of breadcrumbs.
Afterward, broil the sweetbreads in a preheated oven until their crust becomes crisp.
Potted sweetbreads — Potted sweetbreads are essentially meat patties that are baked or grilled whole.
To make them, combine ground sweetbreads with eggs, onions, herbs, spices, and salt and pepper to taste.
Form the mixture into patties and bake them until the outsides turn crispy.
Gravy — Gravy is the perfect accompaniment for almost everything.
When making gravy, start by melting butter or margarine in a heavy pot and heating it gently until it bubbles.
Next, add 1/2 cup flour and stir continuously until the roux forms a paste.
Now slowly pour in 1 cup of stock or broth and continue stirring until a thick gravy forms.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If you’d rather skip the hassle of making gravy yourself, here are several brands of premixed canned gravy products available online.
- 1 pound beef sweetbreads
- 1 cup oil for frying
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut sweetbreads into 1-inch pieces. Remove any stringy ligaments that are holding them together, rinsing as you go. Drain in a sink-mounted colander.
- In a large saucepan, heat 1/2 inch oil to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C).
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Coat the slightly wet sweetbreads in flour.
- Fry coated sweetbreads until golden brown in hot oil, turning once. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper to taste.