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!
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
- Veal Stock
- 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.