Sweetbread: The Other, Other White Meat
There is a quiet satisfaction in living through routine. Laundry and garbage days and date nights all offer the same thing – they allow you to focus on more important things because you already know what to expect. The same idea goes for people who do not require much time to decide on food. There are days when you know exactly what you want to eat, where you want to eat, and how you want to eat it. You might make your Tuesdays the day you visit your favorite hot dog stand during your lunch meet up with your online cooking school buddies and have a beer every Sunday at the local watering hole. Some days suddenly compelled to throw caution to the wind and try something novel and exciting. On days like these, when your sense of adventure has reached its tipping point and you want to shout and let it all out, do something exciting and try some sweetbread.
Sweetbread, or ris, is the culinary term for parts of the cow, calf, lamb or pig that are usually kept out of sight. These delicacies can be the thymus, aka the throat, gullet or neck. Other chefs use different parts and call them sweetbreads too, like the parotid and sublingual glands, pancreas and testicles. Parotid glands make cheek or ear sweetbread. Ris made from sublingual glands are called tongue or throat sweetbreads. Pancreas parts make up heart sweetbread and are larger than the other dishes. All of these are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and bursting with juice and flavor.
If you are preparing sweetbreads at home, begin by removing the membrane that hold all the large pieces together. To do this, first simmer the parts, being careful not to overcook them. Then use your fingers and a knife to peel away the tissue, veins, tubers, fat, hard, inedible cartilage, and other unwanted animal parts. You can dry and chill the semi-cooked sweetbread and then bread or fry them to your liking. You can sear the meat for quite some time as the interior of the meat will remain soft and juicy. Pair it with something citrusy and salty. A mixture of lemon juice and capers would accent the meat nicely for a meal that you will never forget!
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