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  • Sweetbreads

    Post #1 - September 9th, 2004, 6:50 pm
    Post #1 - September 9th, 2004, 6:50 pm Post #1 - September 9th, 2004, 6:50 pm
    LTH -- Where do you recommend trying the sweetbreads? I recently got over my (baseless) aversion to this food and now have the zeal of a recent convert. (By the way, it was a fantastic meal last weekend at a restaurant in Toronto called Perigee that caused my road to Damascus experience.)
  • Post #2 - September 9th, 2004, 7:31 pm
    Post #2 - September 9th, 2004, 7:31 pm Post #2 - September 9th, 2004, 7:31 pm
    Jim, a good, cheap way to get your fill of sweetbreads is to order them as a side at Tango Sur. Those Argentines love their variety meats. They "come with" if you order the excellent parrillada. Otherwise, any reputable French place might have them. Call ahead. I've had terrific mustard-crusted sweetbreads at Keefer's too.

    Nice town, Toronto. Perigree in the distillery district came highly recommended, but we splurged at Chiado and an overpriced Hong Kong place instead. I wasn't as impressed as I was told I would be by the Distillery area, though the nearby St. Lawrence Mkt. is spectacular.
  • Post #3 - September 10th, 2004, 5:27 am
    Post #3 - September 10th, 2004, 5:27 am Post #3 - September 10th, 2004, 5:27 am
    I generally prefer sweetbreads when served to me by a French bistro (sauteed in a rich wine sauce is nice), but I can't think of any of our French bistros that has them as a regular part of the menu. So, a decent affordable way to get sweetbreads is at a Greek restaurant. I beleive that most of the good places in Greektown will have broiled sweetbreads as an appetizer or entree. I know for sure that I've had them at Parthenon, but better places like Greek Islands and Costas should have them on the menu as well.

    I hope you enjoy them. I always have a hard time passing up organ meat on the menu (or "parts" as my mother calls them).

    Best,
    EC
  • Post #4 - September 10th, 2004, 8:46 am
    Post #4 - September 10th, 2004, 8:46 am Post #4 - September 10th, 2004, 8:46 am
    eatchicago wrote:I generally prefer sweetbreads when served to me by a French bistro (sauteed in a rich wine sauce is nice), but I can't think of any of our French bistros that has them as a regular part of the menu.


    La Sardine has them on their regular menu:

    Le Ris de Veau au Mad
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #5 - September 10th, 2004, 8:50 am
    Post #5 - September 10th, 2004, 8:50 am Post #5 - September 10th, 2004, 8:50 am
    One thing I'll say is that there's a distinct difference between the delicacy of veal sweetbreads and the liver-like flavor of full-grown sweetbreads. Maybe you'll like that too, who knows, but to me it's an argument in favor of only eating that dose of solid cholesterol in a good French restaurant. My guess would be some of the Greek places, for instance, are serving the grownup ones-- as Iberico was the time I ordered them there.
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  • Post #6 - September 10th, 2004, 8:58 am
    Post #6 - September 10th, 2004, 8:58 am Post #6 - September 10th, 2004, 8:58 am
    gleam wrote:La Sardine has them on their regular menu:

    Go on a Tuesday and do the $22 prix fixe. Any appetizer/salad/soup, any entree, any dessert (especially the outstanding souffles). One of the best deals in the city..


    Thanks Ed. It's been a while since I've been to La Sardine and I have yet tro try the prix fixe deal. I recently had sauteed calf's liver as part of the prix fixe at Tournesol (same price as La Sar.). Very good, but a tad too rich for late summer dining.

    Best,
    EC
  • Post #7 - September 10th, 2004, 10:22 am
    Post #7 - September 10th, 2004, 10:22 am Post #7 - September 10th, 2004, 10:22 am
    Mike G wrote:One thing I'll say is that there's a distinct difference between the delicacy of veal sweetbreads and the liver-like flavor of full-grown sweetbreads. Maybe you'll like that too, who knows, but to me it's an argument in favor of only eating that dose of solid cholesterol in a good French restaurant. My guess would be some of the Greek places, for instance, are serving the grownup ones-- as Iberico was the time I ordered them there.


    At the Parthenon dinner which is like 2 epochs ago, we had a breaded, fried sweetbread that I think was pork but was perhaps lamb. Regardless it was quite delicious and helped move me towards the apostle of offal that I am today.

    I have not been to the Parthenon in quite a while, so I cannot really vouch for whether any sweetbreads are still on the menu.

    I also agree with JeffB's suggestion above. Again, it has been ages ago, but I really liked the grilled sweatbreads at Tango Sur. The grilling "sets up" the organ meat (as us jello makers would say), and the firmer texture is more enjoyable in my opinion.

    Rob
  • Post #8 - September 10th, 2004, 10:40 am
    Post #8 - September 10th, 2004, 10:40 am Post #8 - September 10th, 2004, 10:40 am
    Sweetbreads are featured in some classic Neapolitan dishes, including the timpano di maccheroni (maccheroni pie) and the more humble fritto misto alla napoletana. Of course, they're also used often enough elsewhere in Italy. I doubt they appear in any of the run of the mill Italian restaurants but wonder if they're offered at the high end places, such as Spiaggia.

    And just wondering... What about soul food places?

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #9 - September 10th, 2004, 1:11 pm
    Post #9 - September 10th, 2004, 1:11 pm Post #9 - September 10th, 2004, 1:11 pm
    Cafe Le Coq in Oak Park has had sweetbreads in a vanilla sauce as a real bargain ($7 if I recall correctly) on their appetizer menu. I tried to call just now (708-848-2233) to see if they are on the current menu but didn't get through. They are very good, and a great way to try sweetbreads for people who don't want to make the entree commitment.
  • Post #10 - September 10th, 2004, 1:52 pm
    Post #10 - September 10th, 2004, 1:52 pm Post #10 - September 10th, 2004, 1:52 pm
    Greek Islands used to turn out a very nice plate of sauteed lamb sweetbreads, in a white wine pan sauce, but due to recent menu streamlining, they're gone, along with that great cinnamon scented stuffed squid in tomato sauce, formerly a Friday night special.
    "Bass Trombone is the Lead Trumpet of the Deep."
    Rick Hammett
  • Post #11 - September 10th, 2004, 2:01 pm
    Post #11 - September 10th, 2004, 2:01 pm Post #11 - September 10th, 2004, 2:01 pm
    Antonius wrote:I doubt they appear in any of the run of the mill Italian restaurants but wonder if they're offered at the high end places, such as Spiaggia.


    I had them years ago at Salvatore's on Arlington. I have no idea if they are still on the menu.

    Salvatore's Ristorante
    525 W. Arlington
    Chicago, IL 60614
    773-528-1200
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #12 - September 10th, 2004, 3:52 pm
    Post #12 - September 10th, 2004, 3:52 pm Post #12 - September 10th, 2004, 3:52 pm
    Ann Fisher wrote:Cafe Le Coq in Oak Park has had sweetbreads in a vanilla sauce as a real bargain ($7 if I recall correctly) on their appetizer menu. I tried to call just now (708-848-2233) to see if they are on the current menu but didn't get through. They are very good, and a great way to try sweetbreads for people who don't want to make the entree commitment.


    I first had them here last Fall & fell in love with them.

    I was there about a month ago and they were superb! Thin (but not too thin), breaded and crispy with a slightly sweet, deftly vanilla sauce.....I'm afraid to try any of the other appetizers because I love this one so much.

    This is a definite must-try!
  • Post #13 - September 10th, 2004, 6:20 pm
    Post #13 - September 10th, 2004, 6:20 pm Post #13 - September 10th, 2004, 6:20 pm
    Pardon my ignorance, but what are sweetbreads, exactly? I recall them being some kind of glandular organ, but not sure which one. As one who likes liver (but yet, somehow, has an aversion to kidney, brains, or hearts) I'd be willing to try this organ-licious delicacy, if only for the name (calling a glandular organ a sweetbread is much akin to my mother giving us chopped liver and calling it country pate). Can anyone try to describe the taste, texture, and maybe offer a few classic preparations? Just curious...

    Rebbe
  • Post #14 - September 10th, 2004, 6:48 pm
    Post #14 - September 10th, 2004, 6:48 pm Post #14 - September 10th, 2004, 6:48 pm
    hungryrabbi wrote:Pardon my ignorance, but what are sweetbreads, exactly? I recall them being some kind of glandular organ, but not sure which one. As one who likes liver (but yet, somehow, has an aversion to kidney, brains, or hearts) I'd be willing to try this organ-licious delicacy, if only for the name (calling a glandular organ a sweetbread is much akin to my mother giving us chopped liver and calling it country pate). Can anyone try to describe the taste, texture, and maybe offer a few classic preparations? Just curious...

    Rebbe


    sweetbread refers to either the thymus or the pancreas of an animal.

    the generic term for liver/kidney/brains/hearts/intestines/etc is offal.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #15 - September 13th, 2004, 4:41 pm
    Post #15 - September 13th, 2004, 4:41 pm Post #15 - September 13th, 2004, 4:41 pm
    i had my first sweetbread experience at blackbird, where they were an appetizer. two friends and i shared some apps with a bottle of wine and the sweetbreads were a revelation. i was fortunate enough to have them again there as the beginning of a dinner; again, i loved the dish.

    since then i've had them several times at tango sur, where i really like them. they're not as perfect as at blackbird and may be older (in the sense a previous poster mentioned), i'm not sure. at tango sur they are best HOT, so they're the first things i start in on when i get the mixed grill. by the time i finish the last bite or two, it's less compelling. on the whole, though, a highly satisfying element of an already very pleasant (and very affordable) meat-fest. but start in on them first.

    jim
  • Post #16 - September 17th, 2004, 2:25 am
    Post #16 - September 17th, 2004, 2:25 am Post #16 - September 17th, 2004, 2:25 am
    Mike G wrote:One thing I'll say is that there's a distinct difference between the delicacy of veal sweetbreads and the liver-like flavor of full-grown sweetbreads. Maybe you'll like that too, who knows, but to me it's an argument in favor of only eating that dose of solid cholesterol in a good French restaurant. My guess would be some of the Greek places, for instance, are serving the grownup ones-- as Iberico was the time I ordered them there.


    The difference you're tasting may be that between the delicate taste of thymus gland and the stronger one of pancreas, both of which are called "sweetbreads." Full-grown animals don't have a thymus gland. The organ atrophies with age.

    You're correct that the Greeks are more likely to use the stronger-tasting organ than the French.
  • Post #17 - October 19th, 2006, 8:11 am
    Post #17 - October 19th, 2006, 8:11 am Post #17 - October 19th, 2006, 8:11 am
    We made a visit back to Parthenon (first trip in over a year I suspect, although we used to dine there much more often before we found LTH and started to expand our horizons).

    We tried the lamb sweetbreads for the first time this trip (funny, we never saw them on the menu before!) I opted for fried, thinking they meant pan-fried like the squid. Nope, it was deep fried and breaded and it was delicious. Hard to go wrong I suppose. Could have used a lemon wedge to brighten it a bit, but lovely organ flavor and crispy fried outside. Yum.
    small dish is 6.95 for 10 pieces. A great "small" dish.

    Also, got the stuffed squid (spinach and cheese stuffed braised squid)
    Still delicious, but appetizer now has only 2 pieces (we thought in the past it might have been 3 in the appetizer and 5 in the entree).

    Final dish was Rotisserie lamb which was moist and flavorful, with crispy skin and dripppings poured on top. Roasted potatoes were soft and brown.

    Not a low fat meal, but very very good.
    Had to ask for olive oil for the table (they don't place it out anymore), but otherwise Parthenon is still in fine form.
  • Post #18 - October 19th, 2006, 4:18 pm
    Post #18 - October 19th, 2006, 4:18 pm Post #18 - October 19th, 2006, 4:18 pm
    Cyrano's always has a fairly traditional preparation of sweetbreads done with a lighter touch than normal. I have always had good success ordering the regular entree preparation;I say that as some of the best sweetbreads I have had in Chicago have been at Cyrano's, but the worst sweetbreads I have had were also at Cyrano's as a preparation for some special event.
    Most recently I had excellent sweetbreads at Cafe Matou with a rich (like the dish needs more richness) mushroom sauce perfect for dipping each bite. To paraphrase Eric Aubriot, I like fat with my fat.
    JiLS, your aversion may not be totally baseless. Working with sweetbreads before cooking takes a leap of faith to expect such a delicious food with a not unpleasant texture.
  • Post #19 - October 20th, 2006, 2:53 pm
    Post #19 - October 20th, 2006, 2:53 pm Post #19 - October 20th, 2006, 2:53 pm
    There are sweetbreads on the menu at the Hop Leaf right now. They are gigantic, and they are really, really good. Like the Hop Leaf needed to give you more of a reason to go...
  • Post #20 - October 20th, 2006, 4:39 pm
    Post #20 - October 20th, 2006, 4:39 pm Post #20 - October 20th, 2006, 4:39 pm
    I agree on Parthenon. The whole mezes platter with sweetbreads, liver, meatball, and orange zested housemade sausage there is great.

    Also I think the sweetbreads, Glykadia, at Pegasus served with lemon and Oregano are some of the best in greektown.
    MJN "AKA" Michael Nagrant
    http://www.michaelnagrant.com
  • Post #21 - July 22nd, 2007, 12:45 am
    Post #21 - July 22nd, 2007, 12:45 am Post #21 - July 22nd, 2007, 12:45 am
    I once again enjoyed La Sardine's rendition of sweetbreads in madiera sauce a few evenings ago. Crisp slices of delicately sauteed sweetbreads and a garlicky madiera sauce, with a crisp gratin of maccaroni tubes and sauteed spinach.

    And I'll be back again, very soon.

    :twisted:
    "Bass Trombone is the Lead Trumpet of the Deep."
    Rick Hammett
  • Post #22 - July 22nd, 2007, 8:11 am
    Post #22 - July 22nd, 2007, 8:11 am Post #22 - July 22nd, 2007, 8:11 am
    as this thread began with Toronto allow me to forage closer to "home."

    L'Explorateur in Indianapolis offers the best sweetbreads I've tasted: a simple prep...lightly-breaded, aggressively-seasoned, and served with a soupcon of bone marrow ice cream. Crisp glands bust upon teeth; salty, tensile...mmm...and that ice cream...sweet...platonic/protein-y...more please...

    another tack: I recommend The River Cottage MEAT Cookbook essay on offal
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #23 - July 23rd, 2007, 10:29 am
    Post #23 - July 23rd, 2007, 10:29 am Post #23 - July 23rd, 2007, 10:29 am
    Christopher Gordon wrote:L'Explorateur in Indianapolis

    Another fine rendition in Indy
    can be found at 14 West - Downtown
    (probably the strongest dish on the menu)

    Panned Veal Sweetbreads -
    crimini mushrooms, fennel salad,
    marsala sauce
  • Post #24 - July 23rd, 2007, 11:04 am
    Post #24 - July 23rd, 2007, 11:04 am Post #24 - July 23rd, 2007, 11:04 am
    i would never order them but my SO loves sweetbreads, so i've tried various.

    the ones we had from La Sardine were terrible. They were dry, flavorless, not the kinda thing you'd want again probably. Maybe this was an off day for them.

    Have also had them at various other places.... I believe they're on the menu at Cyrano's regularly too. They were very delicious from Cyrano's, but I don't know how "traditional" they were prepared. they actually tasted just like fried chicken.

    ..have also had them at le bouchon. they were very good from there but I don't really remember their characteristics. i kinda got the idea they were fairly frequently on the menu there too.
  • Post #25 - July 24th, 2007, 4:28 pm
    Post #25 - July 24th, 2007, 4:28 pm Post #25 - July 24th, 2007, 4:28 pm
    hungryrabbi wrote:Can anyone try to describe the taste, texture, and maybe offer a few classic preparations? Just curious...

    Sweetbreads are very mild and delicate in taste, milder than just about any meat I can think of (including the oft-used "tastes like chicken"). That's why they go well with a mild sauce such as a vanilla or marsala sauce. In texture, they are very smooth, without the long grain found in turkey or beef, more like the smoothness you would find in, say, foie gras or other types of liver (smoother than chicken liver though). They usually appear as lumps, larger than spaetzle but smaller than chicken livers. Sometimes there is a somewhat stringy... membrane? between the lumps, but not always.

    SCUBAchef wrote:
    Christopher Gordon wrote:L'Explorateur in Indianapolis

    Another fine rendition in Indy
    can be found at 14 West - Downtown
    (probably the strongest dish on the menu)

    Panned Veal Sweetbreads -
    crimini mushrooms, fennel salad,
    marsala sauce

    Funny; just a few months ago, I had the sweetbreads at both these places, just a few nights apart (L'Ex on my way through Indy outbound, 14 West on my return). I preferred the sweetbreads at 14 West; they were simply awesome, one of the best sweetbread preparations I've ever had. And the rest of the menu (at least, the other dishes I tried) was equally impressive. The food at L'Explorateur may be a bit more creative, but I thought it was more delicious at 14 West.

    14 West website
    L'Explorateur website
  • Post #26 - July 24th, 2007, 6:38 pm
    Post #26 - July 24th, 2007, 6:38 pm Post #26 - July 24th, 2007, 6:38 pm
    I've only had sweetbreads three times in my life: once at la sardine, once at hopleaf and once at some greek place in lincoln square--I'm sorry but the name escapes me. While I found the sweetbread dishes at la sardine and the greek place very nice--Hopleaf had the sweetbreads that would really encourage me to keep ordering them.
    I always find the food at Hopleaf to be beyond my expectations (though this may not continue as my expectations may have risen unreasonably high). The sweetbreads I had there had a very delicate but crispy exterior that gave way to an unctuous melting interior. The flavor of the ingredient itself was more pronounced at both the greek place and la sardine, but the texture of the sweetbreads at Hopleaf blew the other two examples away.
    When I read travelogues or cookbooks that praised the glory of sweettbreads, what i imagined in my head was pretty much exactly what I had at Hopleaf.
    FYI: the menu at Hopleaf changes often and sweatbreads may not currently be on the menu.
  • Post #27 - July 24th, 2007, 7:09 pm
    Post #27 - July 24th, 2007, 7:09 pm Post #27 - July 24th, 2007, 7:09 pm
    Bargain grilled sweetbreads can also be had at Jesse's Mexican Grill. I have also become addicted and go there to enjoy them when a craving hits. They must be young even though they are described as "Mollejas de Res" because I didn't think of them as livery at all - they're kissed with a bit of lime and accompanied by grilled vegetables and I could eat two servings if I let myself...
  • Post #28 - July 24th, 2007, 7:23 pm
    Post #28 - July 24th, 2007, 7:23 pm Post #28 - July 24th, 2007, 7:23 pm
    Mhays wrote:They must be young even though they are described as "Mollejas de Res" because I didn't think of them as livery at all

    I don't think of them as livery either; in fact, quite the opposite, very mild in taste vs the strong taste of liver. Is there a liver connotation in that description? "Res" sounds like the French "ris" ("ris de veau" - sweetbreads).
  • Post #29 - July 24th, 2007, 7:33 pm
    Post #29 - July 24th, 2007, 7:33 pm Post #29 - July 24th, 2007, 7:33 pm
    Res in spanish is cow/beef. I'm not sure what the mexican-spanish word for veal is... I think the castellano word is "ternera"
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #30 - October 23rd, 2007, 7:41 am
    Post #30 - October 23rd, 2007, 7:41 am Post #30 - October 23rd, 2007, 7:41 am
    I'm looking for a good restaurant in Chicago (downtown or north side) with sweetbreads on the menu. I've been to La Sardine which had a great sweetbread entree but I want to branch out. I've checked a number of menus for French restaurants -- Bistro 110, La Tache, La Bouchon, Cote de Rhine, Mon Ami Gabi. I haven't found another thymus gland option yet.

    Any ideas?

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