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Prepare Sweetbreads like a Pro

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Photo by Juliana Argentino
Crispy Buffalo Sweetbreads from Chef Martha Wiggins. Photo by Juliana Argentino

Sweetbreads have always been regarded as a dish better left to the pros, because they are difficult and time-consuming to prepare, not to mention challenging to find. But many home cooks are more adventurous these days and are ready for the sweetbread challenge. With tips for preparing sweetbreads from Chef Martha Wiggins of Sylvain in New Orleans and her recipe for Crispy Buffalo Sweetbreads you will be on your way to preparing tasty sweetbreads in your own kitchen. Chef Wiggins fries the sweetbreads until crispy and then tosses them in a Hot Sauce Beurre Blanc to create a decadent, highbrow twist on the Buffalo Chicken Wing.

Sweetbreads are considered offals, or organ meat like liver and kidneys. They can come from a calf, pig, or sheep, and can come from the thymus gland (called the neck or throat sweetbreads) or the pancreas (called the heart sweetbreads). Be prepared to special order sweetbreads from your local butcher or specialty food market and when selecting them look for cuts that are white and firm.

Sweetbread tips from Martha Wiggins

  • Opt for heart sweetbreads over throat sweetbreads. They are larger and rounder, so they’re more versatile (you can slice them or break them down into pieces), they are also less bloody and have a creamier texture and more forgiving appearance
  • Chef Wiggins suggests poaching sweetbreads in a court bouillon, and then shocking them in an ice bath to stop the cooking.
  • Once poached, press them over night with a weight over a perforated pan. That will push out any remaining fluid.

Crispy Buffalo Sweetbreads
From Executive chef Martha Wiggins of Sylvain in New Orleans, Louisiana