Ris de Veau Meunière
(Breaded Veal Sweetbreads with Lemon Caper Sauce)
By Sue Lau
This is a recipe I had hoped to get posted for Sunday, but ended up taking the day off, since it was Mother’s Day and didn’t really have the time to devote to presenting it on social media.
I’d had sweetbreads in a French restaurant before. I had not tried them before that, but I am usually up for trying new things. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Theirs had been braised in a wine sauce with vegetables. It was okay, didn’t knock me off my feet or anything. I suspect the wine overpowered the whole thing, muddying down the flavors leaving it dull. Not cooking with wine itself, but just whatever they poured into it. Not all red wines are created equal, even among type.
Later I saw some sweetbreads at the butcher at Findlay Market. Cost was about $15 and since I don’t usually see them, grabbed them up, took them home and popped them in the freezer until I could set about doing it.
I’d been looking at some French recipes for Ris de Veau Meunière which looked quite a lot like some of my recipes for different kinds of piccata. So I decided to make them with a piccata sauce, and frying them of course, as I would if it were chicken. But there is a little prep involved and I needed to get my eyes on how that was done.
I came across a video done by Jacques Pepin and Julia Child that has some detail on the prep and followed some tips from that. The recipe Pepin did wasn’t the same kind of recipe, but it doesn’t make a difference from that point. It was just really helpful, not knowing anything about sweetbreads to be able to take a peek and bring it to a place where I would know what to do to carry on.
And the first thing is to blanch the sweetbreads, then pop them into ice water to stop the cooking process, and then press it between something heavy. I used two small sheet pans weighed down with one of my heavier cast iron skillets. After chilling them for several hours, you can finish them up. It’s a lot like trimming boneless chicken breast. Trim away chunks of anything viscous or membrane like as well as any bits of sinew. Take your time doing this so your sweetbreads will be velvety tender and not have something chewy in them the way you might come across gristle in a steak.
The type of sweetbreads I use are from the throat. There is also a type which are two lobes (pancreas). Either kind works and even if Pepin prefers the lobes, they will both taste wonderful. The flavor itself is a lot like chicken, and not quite as firm as cooked chicken. You may or may not notice a hint of chicken liver flavor, which is part of the sweetbreads flavor.
Cooking from there is fairly easy, like making chicken piccata. I know many of you haven’t had the opportunity to make sweetbreads and many might wonder about it since it is technically offal. But it’s not bad or off-putting at all. And yes, mine very much tasted better than that fancy-pants French restaurant. And for a lot less money.
In fact, if you find yourself, like I do, wondering why there isn’t a better variety of things to eat with more choices, both at the market and in eating out, you quickly realize why learning to prepare these type of foods is so beneficial. You’d probably pay quite a lot for something like this at an upscale restaurant, when it is easily made at home. And your family and friends will be so thankful that you didn’t make for them one of the same things they have eaten thousands of times before, like ordinary pasta dishes, steaks, or roasted chicken, to name a couple.
I am very much enthusiastic about learning knew things and mastering those, and sharing what I learn from them with you. Together on my blog, we can explore the culinary world, if not as some famous chef, then in the warmth of our own homes as our favorite and most palatable pastime.
Ris de Veau Meunière
3 hours basic prep (most of that chilling the sweetbreads)
20 minutes cooking time
- 2 pounds veal sweetbreads
- salt and black pepper
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup chopped shallots or red onions
- 12 ounces chardonnay (or other dry white wine)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons small capers
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Soak the sweetbreads in several changes of water if they do not appear pink and clean.
- Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch sweetbreads for one minute, then remove and cool in ice water.
- Trim any membrane and/or sinewy parts from the sweetbreads- you may find they come apart slightly, and there will be some of that between sections, so trim it as cleanly as possible (this makes it more tender). This is quite like trimming boneless chicken breast, just a little more tedious.
- Place sweetbreads on a rimmed baking sheet and top with another, weighing down the sheet with something heavy and chill several hours.
- Season sweetbreads with salt and pepper, then dip into an egg wash, and then into a flour dredge, lightly shaking off excess.
- Heat butter and olive oil in a skillet, and add floured sweetbreads in a single layer, cooking them over moderate heat until golden, about 10-15 minutes, depending on heat level; remove and keep warm.
- Add the shallots to the pan and cook until they soften (I cook this sauce at the same time I cook the sweetbreads so they pretty much get done together), then stir in the chardonnay and lemon juice and cook until the liquid reduces by half. Add the capers and the parsley.
- Serve the sauce over the warm breaded sweetbreads.
From the kitchen of palatablepastime.com
I’ll try to get some more recipes up this week, but with summer coming, my schedule will be shaking up a bit. I am hoping to post steadily between Mon-Fri while taking the weekends off. Occasionally I’ll be doing something extra. I’ll pick up again with a heavier schedule in the fall when the lovely weather becomes far and few between.
I have been missing getting out into nature and sunshine! So if you look for me on Saturdays and Sundays, you’ll likely find me under blue skies….
Look for recipes this week on Thursday with a Banana-Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake, Margarita Shrimp Tostadas on Friday, and Hungarian Chilled Cherry Soup (Meggyleves) on Saturday. And others things I’ll try to squeeze in here and there.