How to Cook Lamb Sweetbreads
Sweetbreads are a relatively little-used part of lamb, although they’re loved by chefs for their texture and subtle flavor. Typically sweetbreads from veal are the most well known, but lamb are also excellent, especially our 100% grass-fed sweetbreads raised in Wisconsin.
An organ meat, sweetbreads come in two different shapes and names: heartbreads, and neck sweetbreads, which are the pancreas, and thymus glands, respectively. Neck sweetbreads are longer in shape, where heartbreads are more round. Both types are fine for cooking, and interchangeable in most recipes.
Unlike many other organ meats, like kidneys or liver, sweetbreads have a very mild flavor. After par cooking, they are tender, juicy, and delicious, especially when prepared in arguably the most classic method, which is fried. Preparation does take a little more work than other meats, but once you taste them, we think you’ll agree lamb sweetbreads are excellent, and well worth the small amount of effort to prepare.
Think of this recipe as the starting point of a dish you can create with whatever you have on hand, once the sweetbreads are prepped, poached and fried. Chef Bergo reccomends combining them with something as simple as lemon wedges and a simple salad for a light meal, or, saucing them with a tangy sauce made from lemon and capers.
This recipe is by chef Alan Bergo. A chef from Minnesota, Alan is a veteran of the culinary industry, former executive chef of acclaimed Lucia’s Restaurant, and the Salt Cellar. Founder of the website Forager Chef, he’s best known as a respected authority on Midwestern foraging. Learn more about Alan and his hunt for mushrooms, wild and obscure foods at Forager Chef.
- Lamb sweetbreads, as needed
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Milk or salt water, enough to cover the sweetbreads
- Lard or cooking oil, as needed for frying
- Seasoned all purpose flour, as needed for dredging
- Beaten egg, as needed for breading the sweetbreads
- Cover the sweetbreads with milk and soak overnight in the refrigerator. Season the flour with salt and pepper.
- The next day, bring a pot of water seasoned with salt so it tastes like the sea to a simmer, then add the sweetbreads and cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove the sweetbreads and cool, then trim off tissue with a paring knife to reveal the inner meat. From here, the sweetbreads can also be crumbled into pieces and added to a dish, such as pasta. See a pasta recipe with sweetbreads here.
- To cook the sweetbreads, have a separate bowl of beaten egg and flour ready, warm some oil in a wide pan. Dip the sweetbreads in flour, then egg, then flour again, then carefully add to the hot oil and cook until golden on each side. Serve the sweetbreads hot, any leftovers should be eaten within 24 hours.