Sauteed veal sweetbreads recipe


Veal is prized in France not only for its tender and mild cuts that marry well with the many sauces of the French repertoire but also for the enlarged thymus gland of these younger animals, called the sweetbreads. When properly prepared, sweetbreads have great flavor and texture, and this recipe highlights these qualities by combining them with a typical French pan butter sauce.

  • Yield: 15 portions (4 ounces/portion)


For Soaking the Sweetbreads (should be soaked overnight)
  • 3 lbs Veal Sweetbreads
  • 1.5 qts water
  • 1.5 oz Salt
For Blanching the Sweetbreads
  • Sweetbreads, drained and rinsed
  • 2 qts Veal Stock, cold
For Sautéing the Sweetbreads
  • Sweetbreads, cleaned, cooled, and pressed
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 oz Clarified Butter
  • 4 oz Bacon, medium diced
  • 4 oz Shallots, minced
  • 2 oz Carrots, minced
  • 2 oz Celery, minced
  • 4 oz Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 oz Marsala Wine
  • 4 oz Red Wine
  • 24 fl oz Veal Stock
  • 6 oz Whole Butter, salted, softened, and cut into 10 pieces
  • Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
How to Make It
    For Soaking the Sweetbreads
  1. Combine the sweetbreads, water, and salt in a nonreactive container, and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. For Blanching the Sweetbreads
  3. Drain the soaking water from the sweetbreads and set the sweetbreads into a small pot or pan, which will just hold the sweetbreads and cold veal stock for the blanching.
  4. Bring the cold veal stock with the sweetbreads in it to a simmer over a medium-high flame, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the sweetbreads from the blanching liquid and set aside to cool.
  6. Once the sweetbreads are cool, trim the connective tissue from the surface of the sweetbreads (do not trim into the sweetbreads, which would result in their coming apart in pieces).
  7. Place pieces of plastic wrap inside a 2-inch hotel pan, and put the trimmed sweetbreads in the pan.
  8. Place another piece of plastic wrap over the sweetbreads, and place another 2-inch hotel pan on top of the sweetbreads. Put one or two #10 cans in the top hotel pan to weight down and compress the sweetbreads.
  9. Place sweetbreads into the refrigerator, and leave overnight to compress.
  10. For Sautéing the Sweetbreads
  11. Remove the sweetbreads from the refrigerator, and take them out of the hotel pan. Slice into 1-inch pieces by cutting on a bias.
  12. Combine the flour with the salt and mix thoroughly.
  13. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add half of the clarified butter.
  14. Flour the sweetbreads lightly with the flour/salt mixture (tap against the side of the pan to ensure no excess flour), and sauté half in the large sauté pan, cooking until golden brown on each side. Remove the sweetbreads from the pan and place in a container set to hold briefly.
  15. Continue to flour and sauté the remaining sweetbreads, using the additional clarified butter as needed until all of the sweetbread slices have been sautéed and removed from the pan (there should be some nice fronds on the bottom of the pan from this process carefully control the heat so you don’t burn any!).
  16. Once all of the sweetbreads have been sautéed, add the diced bacon to the sauté pan; lower the heat to a medium flame to slowly render and brown bacon.
  17. Once the bacon is rendered and crisp, add the minced shallots, carrots, and celery, and sweat the vegetables over a medium-low flame until all are tender
  18. Add the mushrooms and turn up the heat; sauté all ingredients together until they begin to caramelize.
  19. Deglaze the pan with the marsala and red wine, using a wooden spoon to dissolve all of the fronds left on the bottom of the pan.
  20. Once alcohol has reduced au sec (until almost dry), add the veal stock and reduce by half.
  21. Once the veal stock has reduced by half, begin to finish with the whole butter pieces until a thickened sauce remains.
  22. Return the sweetbreads to the pan to coat with sauce and to reheat slightly before serving.

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