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Old 06-09-2013, 07:10 AM   #1
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I Ate Sweetbreads!

It’s been on my culinary bucket list to try various organ and alternative meats – first, to eat them, then maybe even to try cooking them. A wise friend told me that the French have a way with cooking “alternative” meats and that I should start there.

Last night I went out with a friend to a French restaurant in Kansas City. Veal sweetbreads were on the appetizer menu, so I ordered them. Oh my! They were delicious – braised and served with a cream sauce in a puff pastry shell (I confess I ate a bit of the puff pastry). My friend and I were practically licking the plate clean, it was that good. (For those that don’t know what sweetbreads are- it is not a bread at all. Sweetbreads are the thymus and/or pancreas glands of a calf.)

My main course was semi-boned quail stuffed with foie gras and truffles. It was wonderful, too. We shared a dessert, a lemon-raspberry tart that was tiny but rich and worth every carb and calorie !

If I could afford it (price- and carb-wise), I’d go back to this restaurant every week and order a bottle of red wine, the sweetbreads, and a lemon tart. Mmmmm, heaven.

So far, I have tried (or cooked) sweetbreads, pork liver (in a terrine), goose liver (foie gras), pork cheeks, pork snouts, pork belly, beef tongue tacos (lengua) and beef head tacos (cabeza). Making chicken stock with chicken feet might count, too.
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Old 06-09-2013, 07:43 AM   #2
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You are way braver than me! Blech!
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Old 06-09-2013, 08:08 AM   #3
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I know, it sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? But it was really good. The texture was similar to chicken thighs (the meat was in 1/4 – to 1/2 –cubes). There was a subtle earthy flavor, as if there were mushrooms in the dish (there wasn’t). My friend, who is a semi-vegetarian, was brave enough to try it, and she loved it too. We ended up splitting the dish and scraped every last bit of goodness off the plate. Maybe it was the lovely bottle of wine that made us brave!

It’s curious that we considered eating some animal flesh as delicious, but other parts as “gross”. I guess it’s a cultural thing as well as tradition (what you ate growing up.) When I was young, we never ate any organ meats in our household other than my mom’s liver and onions, which I wouldn’t touch.

I don’t know that I’ll be brave enough to try cooking sweetbreads (the recipes for prep are pretty involved) but I would most definitely try them again on a restaurant menu!
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Old 06-09-2013, 08:44 AM   #4
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Both chefs made breaded veal sweetbreads on a rerun of Iron Chef last night. I kind of felt sorry for the judges (who had to eat them) lol --- but they all gave the dishes huge thumbs up. I'd have probably claimed to be vegetarian lol. (Not adventurous at all when it comes to eating).

Happy you enjoyed your meal, tho. Sounds scrumptious.
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:34 AM   #5
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I've never had them, but my Dad always said they were good done in nice cream/wine sauces. I've never seen them in meat counters, so I guess it's something you have to special order from butchers direct.
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Old 06-09-2013, 11:18 AM   #6
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I've had them at a restaurant, and agree, I'd never bother with them at home - too much work. The ones I had were at an Italian restaurant and in a cream sauce, it was delicious.

Many cultures leave NOTHING behind - they use every part of every animal. If I were VERY hungry, I could maybe eat brains, heart, kidneys - but as it is, I still prefer mostly the muscle cuts, and liver/bacon/onions is hard to beat! I like chicken livers and hearts though.

My Mom would not THINK of eating any of that stuff so didn't fix it, although occasionally my Dad could get her to fix some liver/onions/bacon for him and me. My sister and mother ate something else!

Good for you for having a culinary bucket list - that sounds like fun! I HAVE tried some of the things on mine, like alligator, rattlesnake, etc. and we routinely eat buffalo, elk, wild boar - they're all delicious if you know how to fix them properly.
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Old 06-09-2013, 01:14 PM   #7
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Sweetbreads are my husbands favorite meal

36 years ago his mom taught me to make them.
I am not an organ meat eater. Veal liver or chopped chicken
livers is as brave as I get. However, I did learn and Jay loves them.
I also have another good friend who loves them too. So they come
to dinner when I make them and her husband and I eat something
else Her recipe is superb because of the sauce. If anyone
wants me to share, I will be happy to do so. It's heritage type recipe.
I use the sauce with chicken and pork tenderloins.

BTW veal sweetbread have to be special order as they all go to fine
restaurants. They are very expensive here in my area. I mean VERY!
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