Braised Veal Sweetbreads Recipe

Makes: 10 portions. Cooking time: 1 hour. Oven temperature: 180°C.


— 1½ kg veal sweetbreads
— 150 grams butter
— 250 grams sliced carrots
— 250 grams sliced onions
— 200 grams sliced celery
— 80 grams bacon trimmings
— 1 sprig thyme
— 1 bay leaf
— parsley stalks
— 1 crushed clove of garlic
— 1 liters white veal stalk
— salt and pepper


(1) Soak the sweetbreads for about 1 hour under gently running cold water or in a basin of cold water.

(2) Place the sweetbreads into a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil for approximately 5 minutes. Place the saucepan under hot running water to remove scum and grease, then refresh under cold running water and drain in a colander. This is referred to as blanching.

(3) Remove any nerves or gristle and membrane that covers the outer area.

(4) Place the sweetbreads in between a damp cloth and place a heavy chopping board on top in order to slightly flatten them. Leave for approximately 15 minutes.

(5) Butter a shallow sided saucepan and place in the bed of roots. Put the sweetbreads on top, season with salt and pepper, cover with a sheet of buttered greaseproof paper, and cover with a lid. Allow to cook gently in the oven for about 10 minutes without allowing it to color.

(6) Remove from the oven, take off the greaseproof paper and add the stock. Bring to the boil, re-cover with greaseproof paper and cover with a lid. Return it to the oven to braise, basting from time to time until cooked.

(7) Remove the sweetbreads from the cooking liquid and place them in a shallow dish. Strain the liquid over the sweetbreads and retain for serving.

When sweetbreads are required for extension dishes they should be sliced to a thickness of 1cm on a slant of about 45°.

To test if cooked;
Remove a sweetbread from the liquid with a fork or perforated spoon and gently press between the fingers. It should feel firm, so if it is springy it means it is not cooked. If uncertain, increase the finger pressure until the bread begins to break at the inter-membrane sections. The inside should be off white in color. There should be no pinkness in the center when cut in half.

Serve sweetbreads in an entrée type dish.

Possible problem, cause and solution:

The sweetbreads are dry and dark in color:
— sweetbreads were not soaked before cooking; care must be taken when preparing the sweetbreads as this cannot be rectified.

— sweetbreads were not blanched correctly; care must be taken to follow the correct blanching procedure as this cannot be rectified later.

— Sweetbreads were cooked too quickly at too high a temperature; care must be taken to braise the sweetbreads for the prescribed length of time at the correct temperature as this cannot be rectified later.

— sweetbreads were not covered with a lid during cooking; care must be taken to follow the correct procedure for cooking the sweetbreads to avoid this problem which cannot be rectified.

— greaseproof paper was not buttered so that it sticks and may burn onto the surface of the sweetbreads: care must be taken over this aspect to avoid this problem which cannot be rectified.

— during retention in the refrigerator the sweetbreads were not submerged in the liquid or covered with cling film; care must be taken to follow the correct procedure for retention to avoid problems which cannot be rectified.

— stock in which the sweetbreads were braised was of poor quality; care must be taken when preparing the basic ingredients as problems arising at a later stage cannot be rectified.