Pan-Fried Sweetbreads with Madeira and Bacon

pan-fried sweetbreadsIn my first attempt at live-blogging a recipe, I set myself a bit of a challenge.

Sweetbreads.

Cooking sweetbreads can seem awfully time consuming. You have to soak them not once but twice. You have to simmer them and peel them, and then, finally, you cook them. But they’re worth the effort. And, frankly, while you’re soaking them, you really don’t have to be there to supervise them, so it’s quite easy to fit their schedule into your day.

300g lamb’s sweetbreads

the juice of a lemon

salt and freshly ground black pepper

150g bacon lardons

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

½ tablespoon olive oil

1 beaten egg OR 50ml double cream

flour for dredging

125ml Madiera

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

First soak the sweetbreads for about an hour in enough cold water to cover them completely. Then drain, rinse and repeat, for at least another hour or until you’re ready to cook them.

Drain the sweetbreads and dry them well, then in a saucepan cover them with more cold water. Add a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice, then bring the pan to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain the sweetbreads and plunge them into ice water. Leave them to cool.

In a dry pan, fry off the lardons until they’re crispy and golden. While they’re cooking, peel the membranes off the cooled sweetbreads. Then dredge them in the egg or cream, and then some seasoned flour.

When the bacon’s cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside. Then melt the oil and butter in the pan and gently fry the sweetbreads until they’re golden and crispy.  Set aside.

Deglaze the pan with the Madeira, bubbling it up to cook out the alcohol and scraping up the cooking residues. Add the juice of half a lemon and the cayenne, followed by the other teaspoon of butter. Stir together until the butter has melted.

Serve the sweetbreads with a watercress and lamb’s lettuce salad, with the sauce drizzled around them and the lardons scattered on top, and some crusty French bread to mop up the juices.