The Recipes

Sweetbreads with Creamed Leeks and Mushrooms

At the end of the campaign in November, I treated myself to a couple of indulgences to reward myself for months of sleepless nights and hard work.  My favorite treat that I got was Michael Symon's latest cookbook, Carnivore.  The cookbook is amazing, filled with amazing recipes that, if you're willing, will get you to branch out from your tried-and-true cuts of meat.  I firmly believe that most people will like anything if it's prepared properly, so think outside the box.  You'll also find a lot of useful information about choosing different cuts, and at the end of the day, make friends with the butcher.

I adapted his recipe for this dish and served it as a second course at a dinner party for friends on Friday.  The one thing to be aware of here is that you have to start the process for these guys two days before you want to serve them.  I also made the leeks and mushrooms (also based off of recipes in Symon's book) the day before and then just reheated them while I cooked the sweetbreads.

Sweetbreads with Creamed Leeks and Mushrooms


- 2 lb. veal sweetbreads
- 1/2 onion
- 2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
- 4 large leeks, 1 roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 T. whole peppercorns
- 1/4 c. salt, plus more for seasoning
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 c. mushrooms, sliced
- 4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
- 4 radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 T. butter
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 1-2 c. flour
- pepper
- olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced

Two days before serving, submerge the sweetbreads in salt water.  Cover tightly and refrigerate.

The day before serving, remove the sweetbreads from their soaking liquid and discard.  Build a brine in a large pot with the onion, celery, one leek, peppercorns, 1/4 c. of salt and bay leaves.  Add enough water so that the sweetbreads will be totally submerged.  Bring the brine to a boil and reduce to a low simmer.  While you are waiting for the brine to come to temperature, put the sweetbreads in a big bowl with ice to the top.  In another bowl, set up a second ice bath.

Add the sweetbreads and the ice to the brine.  Let them simmer over LOW heat for 18-20 minutes.  Immediately transfer them to the ice bath and let them cool completely.  Once they are cool, remove the outer membrane and remove any other fatty or undesirable parts.  Break them up into bite-size pieces.  Put a clean kitchen towel on a baking sheet and scatter the sweetbreads on top.  Cover with another clean towel and place another baking sheet, followed by a couple of heavy dishes to weigh them down, and return them to the refrigerator.

To prepare the leeks, remove the root ends and green leaves.  Cut the leeks in half length-wise and thoroughly clean them with cool water to make sure any sand caught in between the leaves is removed.  Slice the leeks into half-moon pieces.

In a large skillet, heat 2 T. of olive oil.  Add the leeks and season them with salt.  Let them start to soften for approximately five minutes.  Add half of the garlic and stir for another minute.  Add in the cream and cayenne and season with pepper.  Let them simmer for 10 minutes over low heat.  (At this point, if you are making this ahead, cool completely and store in the refrigerator.  Reheat over low heat the night you are serving.)

Next, make the mushrooms.  Heat 2 T. of olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the mushrooms in a single layer, taking care not to crowd the pan.  Let them cook over medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes; until they start to caramelize and turn golden brown.  Repeat the process in batches until all mushrooms are cooked, adding a little more oil as needed in between batches.  Once they are all cooked, add the butter to the pan.  Once it is melted, and the garlic and thyme and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms back in and season them with  salt and pepper.  Toss to coat and cook until the mushrooms are heated through again.

The night you are serving, heat the canola oil in a large pan.  Put the flour in a shallow dish and season it with salt and pepper.  Dredge the sweetbreads in the flour.  Drop them carefully into the oil and let them cook until brown, turning once.  They should cook in 1-2 minutes per side.  Remove them to a plate and season lightly with salt as soon as they come out of the oil.

Plate a spoonful of the leeks on each person's plate.  Top with the mushrooms and then a few sweetbreads.  Finish each plate with a few slices of radish.  The very last touch is to douse all of the plates with a very small amount of fresh lemon juice.