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Author Notes: I always wanted to try my hand at veal sweetbreads and I finally came to the plate with this dish. You need to plan ahead (the prep for the sweetbreads is easy but takes 2 days), but its worth it; since I wasn't serving a crowd I took down 6 or 7 of these with a tempranillo. Fatty but cut with the faux chimichuri (I had it leftover from skirt steak) and wine, it'd be perfect for serving culinarily adventurous guests while the wine is flowing freely. In the (very poor quality) picture attached, I used a shmear of spanish goat cheese on the toast, but you could also use thin slices of good brie.
Some people suggest, after taking the sweetbreads out of the skillet, drying them on paper towel. I advise against this; at the highish temp I cook the sweetbreads at, the butter gets golden and nutty after round 2 of frying and when you put the finished, buttery pieces right down onto the cheese laden just-toasted bread, the cheese beneath will melt perfectly. Mushrooms would pair beautifully with this dish. While eating it I imagined you could also make the sweetbreads and put them (without the quartering step, so you have good portions) on a potato pancake, with a dollop of creme fraiche and some chopped chives. That, especially if paired with a wild mushroom side, would be an unctuous main dish. You could also bypass the toasting step and just use thick sliced bread.
For the faux chimmichurri I basically just used the herbs that I had on hand or were growing in the garden: cilantro, basil, parsley and oregano. I'm sure tarragon would work in there too. Totally up to you what you put in it besides the necessity of some cayenne for heat, vinegar and quality olive oil. —TheVealWhisperer
- 1 cup Parsley
- 1 cup Cilantro
- 1 cup basil/oregano mix (or whatever floats your boat)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1 pound large veal sweetbreads, roughly 3
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 cup heavy cream (optional)
- 1 baguette or quality bread, sliced and lightly toasted
- salt and pepper to taste.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 pound fresh goat cheese or brie.
- Put the sweetbreads in a ziplock bag with ice and cold water. Let sit overnight.
- Take the sweetbreads out, put into a high-rimmed pan. Cover with water, and add the juice of the 1 lemon.
- Bring the water to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, cover, and let it go for 5 minutes
- remove from heat and let the sweetbreads sit in the covered pan for another 45 minutes.
- Turn out the pan into a colander and let some cold water run over the sweetbreads. When cooled, using your best paring knife cut the sweetbreads in half lengthwise (or thick-wise)--roughly a third of an inch; trim of any tough membrane you see and then cut into four crostini-sized pieces per half.
- put the pieces on a towel-topped plate, put a heavy cast iron skillet and top and weigh it down with whatever is heavy in your pantry. Fridge it and let sit overnight (again).
- Make the chimichurri: put all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse it into a paste. This is about your taste; if you want it thicker, add herbs (can't over-herb it); if you like thinner, you can add a splash or oil or (if you would like tangier and thinner) vinegar.
- Optional step**: remove the sweetbreads from the weight, put in a zip-lock bag with heavy cream for 1-2 hours.
- heat a skillet to medium-high heat (I go 8/10 on my electric stovetop but I believe my stovetop is cooler than most). Meanwhile toast your bread (can be done in advance) and bring the sweetbreads & cheese to close to room temp. I brought out the cheese and veal sb's about a half hour before cooking.
- Dredge the sweetbreads in the flour (which you should season liberally with salt) so that it is completely covered; but shake and knock off excess (it'll just burn in the fat).
- add the butter to the pan. When hot, add the sweetbreads and fry on each side about 2 minutes per (4-5 total) until both sides get good color. The goldening butter in the pan should make your house smell like heaven. Cooking these, by the way, isn't like a burger or steak where you have to go one flip and one flip only; if you flip after 2 minutes and the color ain't there, just flip it back over. No one'll know and I won't tell...
- Assembly: either shmear some goat cheese on each piece of bread or give them a thin slice of the brie. As soon as the sweetbreads come out of the pan, place the pieces onto a respective bread/cheese piece. Spoon a bit of the chimichurri onto the top of each and serve immediately.