Sweetbread with Madeira and Truffle

A Starter to Remember

A culinary treat that is delicate, balanced and overwhelming yet subtle. In a restaurant you will probably get Sweetbread (Ris de Veau, Kalfszwezerik, Kalbsbries, Molleja de Ternera, Animelle di Vitello) dusted with flour (okayish) or breaded (awful idea, it’s not a Wiener Schnitzel). In some countries Sweetbread is grilled, which is an interesting idea. We stick to a very traditional approach that works extremely well because it’s all about the taste of the Sweetbread in combination with Madeira and Truffle.
Sweetbread should of course be hot and soft on the inside and golden and crispy on the outside. Use your non-sticky skillet and a bit of butter for a beautiful result.
Sweetbread should be between rosé and well done. It requires a bit of attention, but it’s hard to overcook Sweetbread. Although some restaurants are very capable of creating rubber.
It is essential to clean Sweetbread. For some the process of removing the membrane from Sweetbread is intimidating, but don’t be put off. Just watch the video!

Wine Pairing

First the Madeira: don’t be tempted to buy so called ‘cooking Madeira’. This is some horrible, sweet liquid that is not even close to Madeira. One for the bin. We bought a bottle of Santa Maria Fine, Medium Dry, Vinho Madeira. It is perfectly suited for this recipe. The story behind Madeira is complex so if you get the chance to buy one that is 10 or 15 years old, please give it a try. Just sip and enjoy.

We’re looking for a wine that will be supporting the delicate taste and the sweetness, earthiness and the slight nuttiness of the sauce. If you want to drink a glass of white wine, then it should be a full-bodied Chardonnay, although not too oaky. Chablis will be a good choice. If you go for red, then we recommend a Beaujolais Cru (St. Amour or Fleurie) or a Bourgogne. It’s about soft tannins, aromas like dark cherries and licorice and on the palate a lean texture and dry.

What You Need

  • 200 grams of Sweetbread
  • Two leaves of Bay Leaf
  • Crushed black pepper
  • Butter
  • Shallot
  • Veal Stock
  • Madeira
  • Preserved Truffle (preferably without additional flavours)
  • Jus de Truffes

What You Do

Start by filling a big pan with water. Add the crunched pepper and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Now add the sweetbread and make sure the water remains close to boiling. Blanch the sweetbread for let’s say 5 minutes, depending on the size and shape of the sweetbread.
Transfer the sweetbread to a large bowl with ice-cold water and cool the meat as quickly as possible.
Now it’s time to clean the sweetbread. Remove the bits of fat, the fleeces, any membrane, the veins and anything else you don’t like. Best way to do this is with your hands and a very sharp small knife. Once your sweetbread is clean, you will be able to see how to slice it later on. But first put it on a flat plate, seal it with plastic foil, put a similar flat plate on top of it and put something heavy on top of the plate. Transfer to the fridge and leave it for a few hours. The idea is twofold: on the one hand the sweetbread will be firm and easy to partition. And it will lose some liquid because of the weight.
With the sweetbread in the refrigerator it’s time to think about your sauce. Cut the shallot in small bits and glaze in butter. Aftre a few minutes add the veal stock and the Madeira. Mix and reduce. Add one preserved truffle. Blender the liquid after five minutes. Pass through a small sieve and warm what is the beginning of your sauce. Add Jus de Truffes. This is an essential ingredient because it brings volume and depth to the sauce. It’s not to be confused with Truffle Oil, which in most cases is some kind of horrendous chemical invention. Taste and perhaps add some more Madeira or stock. A pinch of pepper may also be helpful. Keep warm for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. You will notice that the sauce becomes more intense and mature, which is exactly what you want.
In parallel cut 2-3 cm thick slices of sweetbread. Fry them for 5 minutes or so in a very warm (but not hot), non-sticky skillet with butter. It’s simple: when the sweetbread is golden and beautiful they are ready to be served. If in doubt: there is bound to be a small slice, one that you can use to test. Remember it’s offal, so you don’t want to take a risk.
Take two warm plates, add sauce and carefully put the slices of sweetbread on the plate. You could add slices of (fresh) truffle on top.

Video

 

Scallops with Winter Truffle

Just One?

Scallops, or Coquilles Saint Jacques, can be delicate, special and tasty. But very often they are basic, chewy and tasteless. The reason is very simple: the ready-to-cook scallops were frozen, shipped from Canada or China and quickly defrosted, maybe days before you bought them as ‘fresh’. The result is on your plate.
The solution is also simple: buy fresh scallops. Then the flavours and aromas will overwhelm you. The structure of the meat (either raw or cooked) will be exactly as it should be.
Agreed, fresh scallops are much more expensive. But the advantage is that one per person is all you need, so yes, just one per person.

Combining fresh and thinly sliced raw scallops with thinly sliced black winter truffle is a marriage made in heaven. Just a few drops of olive oil and black pepper and your starter is ready. We go for a slightly more complex preparation, bringing various flavours together: earthiness and umami from the truffle with sweetness, light acidity and bitterness of the Noilly Prat, with the sweetness and sharpness of the leek, the crispiness of the leek and the truffle with the soft structure of the scallops. And of course: the colours are amazing as well.

And in case you’re not sure how to open and clean a scallop: this is an excellent video that will show you how.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our scallops with a glass of Chablis, Antonin Rodet, Premier Cru, Montmains, 2016. It has a clear and pale golden colour. It comes with mineral notes and a touch of lemon. The taste is delicate and persistent with aromas of fresh citrus. It goes very well with the ‘long’ taste of the dish and the citrus is ideal with the scallop and the Noilly Prat. Combining the scallops with a Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris will also work, as long as the wines are delicate, fresh and not sweet.

What You Need

  • 2 Scallops
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • White of Leek
  • Noilly Prat
  • White Pepper
  • Black Winter Truffle

What You Do

Begin by opening and cleaning the scallops. Clean the two bottom shells because we will use them to serve the scallop. Now thinly slice the leek. Warm the Noilly Prat, allowing for the alcohol to evaporate. Add the leek and allow to cook very gently for 5 minutes. Use a non-sticky skillet with a dash of olive oil and a little butter to fry the scallops. The trick is to fry them until 1/3 has changed colour, then turn them and fry the other 1/3. Add some leek to the shell, a bit of sauce, then the scallop, a touch of white pepper and the thinly sliced black winter truffle on top.

 

 

Last Week’s Special – 39

Omelet with Black (Winter) Truffle with a glass of Kuentz-Bas Alsa­ce Pi­not Blanc

It’s mid March so still some time left to enjoy tasty winter food. Treat yourself to Choucroute with pork, sausage and Confit of Duck. Or pumpkin soup with ginger and jus de truffes.
Talking about truffles, black truffles are harvested from November to March, so be extravagant and buy one before the season closes. The one we bought was 17.6 grams, so you could imagine how happy we were to find it. When buying truffle, please ask if it’s okay to smell them, because the aroma will tell you everything you need to know about the quality.
Black truffle combines really well with warm purée of potatoes, risotto and egg.
Hint: if you need to store a black truffle for a day or so, please store it in a small box with some rice and an egg. The rice will prevent the truffle of becoming too wet and the egg will embrace the aromas of the truffle and become a treat in its own right.
We used our truffle to make one of the simplest and tastiest truffle dishes ever: an omelet with truffle and Parmesan cheese.

A white wine goes very well with this omelet, best would be a classic Pinot Blanc or Riesling from the Alsace region (for instance Kuentz-Bas AOC Alsa­ce Pi­not Blanc Tra­di­ti­on). Think fruity aromas, floral characteristics, minerality and a touch of sweetness. If you want to drink a red wine, then go for a blend like Feteasca Neagra with Syrah as produced by Radacini from Moldavia. Sounds a bit exotic, so if you can’t find it go for a fruity (ripe cherry, plum), spicy red wine with a velvety structure; serve it slightly cooled.

Here is what you need

  • 2 Eggs
  • Butter
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • 10 grams or (budget permitting) more Black Truffle
  • White Pepper

Clean the truffle if necessary. Take a fairly small iron skillet and make sure the pan is warm through and through but not hot. Using a fork (a spoon is even better) whisk the two eggs together. Add butter to the pan and wait until it is melted. It should not change colour or sizzle. An omelet should not be fried; the bottom must remain yellow. Add the whisked egg to the pan and wait until the egg is beginning to set. Check the consistency with your fingers. There is no alternative to baveuse! Take your time.
Serve the omelet on warm dishes with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, white pepper and grated black truffle.