If I were to open a White Castle franchise in Buenos Aires , or a food truck for that matter, this “burger” would be on the menu. Sweetbreads of course are the thymus glands of cows and because they shrink up and almost disappear as the cow ages, we are really talking about veal here. That would be calves---I hope that doesn’t put you off your osso buco. But really, I implore all my fellow meatatarians to consider the so-called “nasty bits” of the animal that has just been put to death for your dinner plate; tripe, tail, snout, ears, liver, tongue, marrow bones---everything that’s actually edible can be turned into something delicious. Sausage casings are intestines (at least if you are eating real sausage), so why stop there? I love sweetbreads for their delicate flavor and also they are wonderful coming off of a wood fired grill, Argentina style. Chimichurri is the national accompaniment to just about everything but gelato. Spicy, garlicky and green. —pierino
- Serves 4-6
cup flat leaf parsley
olive oil, preferably a lighter Spanish style such as Columel
white wine vinegar
hot red pepper flakes (using the point of a small knife you can/should separate the seeds and discard them)
1 dozen small slider size buns, pretty easy to find in the supermarket these days
An ample amount of wood charcoal with which to build a fire for grilling. I like to use oak but hickory or cherry is good too. Never offer a bag of Kingsford briquettes to an Argentine as it will be taken as a sign of disrespect. If you see that thumb and
- Fill a large bowl with cold water and immerse the sweetbreads. It’s helpful to place a plate on top of them and then a weight, such as a can of beans on top to press them down. Hold in the refrigerator for at least two hours until you are ready to start your grill.
- Meanwhile make your chimichurri. Chop the parsley (for this I like to use a mezzaluna)and mince the garlic. Separate the seeds from the pepper flakes with the point of a small knife---the seeds don’t contribute anything unless you intend to plant peppers. Using a fork or a whisk blend these ingredients with the oil, vinegar, oregano and salt.
- Remove the sweetbreads from their cold bath. Trim the tough membrane parts out with a sharp utility knife (when you look at them you’ll know what to do) but keep them as intact as possible for grilling.
- Build a wood charcoal fire (no substitute in Argentina; a gas grill is the ultimate wimpolaness---Bobby Flay, I’m talkin’ to you), bank your coals for indirect heat. Grill your sweetbread patties and when finished, slice following the obvious sectioning lines into segments that will fit on your little White Castle buns. Work fast because you want to serve them hot. So, you burn your fingers, big deal. That’s why God invented Neosporin. Dose the meat with spoons of chimichurri but hold some aside in bowls for dipping and spooning.