(Terrine of Sweetbreads)
We made this at one of the Eating Vincent Price dinners in Chicago. Normally, I like my sweetbreads breaded and fried and served at Bayonne’s in New Orleans. However, this recipe is quite delicious and will make your dinner guests think you are a great golden god.
You can approach making forcemeat from a couple of angles. You can go the hipster foodie LARP route in which you pretend to be a French chef from 1831 who chops all the meat by hand until it turns into an artisanal version of hamburger, or you can just ask your butcher to grind that shit up for you. Or just buy it already ground. Quit being such a snob.
A couple of tricks for making terrines. Air bubbles are your enemy, but gravity is your friend. After you load all the meat into the terrine, slam that fucker on the counter a couple of times. This will bust up the larger cavities. Then lay a foil covered brick on top. Its weight will slowly press all the meat into a solid loaf with no holes.
This recipe calls for truffles. If you haven’t read my previous articles about truffles, just do yourself a favor. Spend the money. Buy a real goddam truffle. Truffle oil and those shitty furry marbles you get from your favorite grocery stores taste like pig snot. Don’t do it.
How to do veau
As for sweetbreads, if you live in Chicago, contact a decent butcher. There are plenty. My favorite is Butcher & Larder because you can have a sandwich and watch them butcher a side of beef right in front of you. Bloody fun. I love Peoria Packing and Meat Mart on Lake. It’s huge, it has bulk chicken feet, pig skin, and all the cuts. Their prices are unbeatable and they know their shit. Wear a coat.
If you don’t know what sweetbreads are, then you need to get out more. They are the glands of a lamb or a calf, usually the thymus gland, though any of the glands qualify. I’ve only eaten ris de veau, as used in this recipe.
Traditionally, you soak the sweetbreads in brine, then in milk, then rinse and cook. Some cooks skip the milk part. I can’t tell a difference between milk soaked and water soaked. I say skip that step but if you’re a hipster or you prefer following tradition then do it.
- 3 pairs of sweetbreads
- 3 large or 4 small truffles
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped
- 2 shallots, minced
- ½ clove garlic, minced
- ½ bay leaf
- a pinch of thyme
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- a little freshly ground pepper
- 1 Cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoon Madeira
- 2 tablespoons cognac
- 1 pound ground lean pork
- 2 pounds ground fresh fat pork
- 1 pound ground lean ham
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- Soak the sweetbreads in ice water for 45 minutes. Drain, cover with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain and chill in ice water. remove covering membrane and connecting cords. Make small slits in the sweetbreads and insert small strips of truffles, using all the truffles. Weigh down with a dinner plate for 15 minutes.
- Heat butter in a skillet; add the onion, carrot, shallots, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Arrange the sweetbreads on the bed of vegetables, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Add fry white wine, Madeira, and cognac. Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove sweetbreads ad cook liquid in pan over high heat until reduced to half. Preheat oven to 350*.
- Combine pork, fat pork, and ham with salt, pepper, eggs and brandy.
- Optional: line terrine with strips of bacon.
- Line bottom and sides of terrine with A quarter inch layer of forcemeat. Sprinkle with some of the cooking liquid. Add a layer of the sweetbreads, add a layer of forcemeat, sprinkling each with the liquid until the terrine is filled. If you used bacon, fold it over the top.
- Cover terrine tightly and bake for 1.5 hours. Cool with a weight resting on the contents, then chill overnight before cutting and serving.