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What Are Sweetbreads?

Asked by Unknown. Answered on 20th October 2010

Full question

What are sweetbreads? Thank you!

Our answer

Sweetbreads are in the offal (variety meats) group so are meats coming from organs rather than muscle tissue. Sweetbreads come from two organs, the thymus (sometimes called the throat sweetbread) which is an organ from the immune system and the pancreas (sometimes called the stomach sweetbread) which is an organ from the digestive system. Usually sweetbreads come from veal or lamb or occasionally young pigs, but veal sweetbreads are the most popular.

Sweetbreads are seen as the most prized offal meat due to their mild flavour and colour and their rich, velvety texture. They are also quite versatile as they can be cooked several ways. Sweetbreads should first be soaked in water for several hours to remove impurities then they are blanched in boiling water, cooled and trimmed. After this they can be grilled, fried or braised. The source of the term sweetbread is not known but the word was first used in the 16th century and the "sweet" part may have been due to the mild flavour.

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