"Do your yoga friends know you eat brains and thymus glands and crazy stuff like that?" He asks popping a crispy morsel in his mouth after expertly swiping it through sauce...
"Um, no, how's the new dish?" I ask with arms folded and one eyebrow raised.
"Clean. Crispy. Sauce is tasty. Great starter with champagne – is there champagne?"
(Hmmm...maybe he's okay after all...)
What is a pomelo? It's like a grapefruit on steroids but sweeter without the bitter aftertaste. Be forewarned the pith is about an inch thick. Veal sweetbreads are the thymus gland.They have a mild flavor with a slightly spongy interior. Cooked correctly they should melt in your mouth.
I found out how delicious sweetbreads were only after I started cooking them professionally.
During a promotional photo shoot for Guy Savoy's website inbetween my cooking shifts, Guy himself sent me his ris de veau dish as a present (from my meat station, nonetheless). I couldn't very well send them back – they were covered in truffles! Total life changing experience. There is something to be said for tasting your food.
I am picky about how they should be cooked and prepared. I like 'em extra crispy on the outside and tender inside. I do not like them roasted – too mushy for my taste.
Here's the technique: soak the glands in ice water for at least three hours to draw out any impurities, changing the water twice. Blanch sweetbreads in a pot of simmering salted water for 45 seconds then shock in ice water to stop the cooking. Peel off the thin membrane that surrounds the gland. Cut into nice bite size pieces about 65g each. Store morsels wrapped in a slightly damp kitchen towel in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
Season morsels with sea salt and sear in a cast iron pan with salted butter continuously basting. Add more salted butter to the pan when remaining butter begins to brown. Baste, baste, baste. The sweetbreads are done when they are brown on all sides.
For extra crispiness: drain sweetbreads on a paper towel when golden brown then cook one more time before serving in the same way.
The sauce is simply a reduction of veal stock and pomelo juice squeezed from the pith after segmenting. I finished the sauce with a little butter for a gloss. Easy! Place pomelo segments around sweetbread morsels and garnish with micro herbs and chives.