Saturday, April 5, 2008


Tonight was a pretty busy night, with two-thirds of the restaurant filling up in about an hour. We were all hustling and that was a good thing, because I wasn't feeling my best. Better to be busy and keep my mind from thinking that I feel lousy. And we were so busy that I had no time to think about what was and was not moving on the menu.

So it wasn't until we were packing up that I noticed the pan of sweetbreads in my cooler, untouched. It's been a long time since I've run sweetbreads on the menu. In the best of times, they sell only slowly, which is a real shame for they are superb eating. Even if we don't sell them, they won't go to waste. The staff will make short work of them.

As I was putting the pan back in the walk-in, I thought it was really a shame to go through all the hard work—soaking the sweetbreads in many changes of cold water, poaching them, peeling and cleaning them, and weighting and pressing them—and then to have nobody order them.

Customers always want to know what sweetbreads are. They're one of two glands, the long and narrow thymus from the neck, or the plumper and rounder pancreas from near the stomach. This batch I have now is some really prime pancreas glands and the large ones such as this give us many more cooking options. Although they can come from several animals, we always serve the very mild veal sweetbreads. They have a very mild veal flavor with a creamy texture that makes them one of the world's great delicacies.

I plan to slice them into roughly centimeter thick slices, dredge them in flour, and sauté them with a bit of pancetta. Then I will deglaze the pan with a bit of shallots and white wine, and finish with a touch of veal demiglace and butter. The sauce will go over the sweetbreads. Those that are brave enough to order this dish will be happy indeed.

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