Milk-Fed Veal Sweetbreads in the Old Style

  • Serves

    serves 8


(Ris de Veau de Lait à l'Ancienne)

Sweetbreads are the thymus or pancreas gland of a young animal; no one knows how they got their name. NOTE: Sweetbreads must be prepared the day before.


  • 4 (9-oz.) pieces veal sweetbreads, halved
  • Salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 14 cup peanut oil
  • 8 tbsp. butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 cup dry vermouth
  • 1 cup veal stock
  • 24 asparagus tips, trimmed and steamed
  • 12 cup peas, steamed
  • 14 lb. haricots verts, trimmed and steamed
  • 16 pearl onions, peeled and boiled
  • 14 lb. baby carrots, peeled, trimmed, and steamed
  • 2 tbsp. minced flat-leaf parsley


Step 1

Wash sweetbreads in cold water, then put them in a large bowl, cover with ice water, and refrigerate for 2 hours, changing the water several times.

Step 2

Put sweetbreads in a saucepan, cover with cold salted water, add lemon juice, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute. Drain, then transfer sweetbreads to a bowl of ice water to cool them. When cool, clean sweetbreads by removing and discarding all fat and sinew. Blot dry with a kitchen towel, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate overnight.

Step 3

Preheat oven to 325°. Heat oil and 4 tbsp. butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat until butter begins to sizzle. Generously season sweetbreads with salt and pepper, then saute until just browned, about 5 minutes per side. Add 3 tbsp. butter and transfer skillet to oven for 20 minutes. Remove skillet from oven, transfer sweetbreads to a platter and keep warm. Pour off fat, place skillet over medium heat, add vermouth, and cook for 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add stock and reduce by half.

Step 4

Melt remaining 1 tbsp. butter in a large saute pan over medium heat, pour in 1⁄4 cup of sauce, then add asparagus, peas, haricots verts, onions, and carrots. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are heated through.

Step 5

Arrange vegetables around sweetbreads on the platter. Spoon remaining sauce over sweetbreads, then sprinkle with parsley.

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