This section is from the book "A Book Of Recipes For The Cooking School", by Carrie Alberta Lyford. Also available from Amazon: A book of recipes for the cooking school.
Sweetbread is the term applied to the thymus gland of the calf. This gland becomes so changed as not to be edible when the animal grows older; in some animals it may eventually be absorbed.
The sweetbread is obtained in pairs because there are two parts of the thymus gland which are connected by tubing and membrane. That portion known as the heart sweetbread lies over the heart; it is short and thick. The throat sweetbread is long and narrow and runs up into the throat. It contains more membrane than the heart sweetbread and is not so desirable.
The pancreas, known as the stomach sweetbread, is often substituted for the true sweetbreads. It is more compact and not so delicate as true sweetbreads. Calves' brains are also often substituted for sweetbreads. Pork sweetbreads are sometimes substituted for calves sweetbreads but they are coarse, dark, and undesirable.
Sweetbreads are in season in the spring and summer when veal is most abundant. Though they can be obtained at other seasons they are usually not so good.
The sweetbreads are removed frcm the veal before it is cut up. If they are not to be used at once they are placed in cold storage.
Sweetbreads should be white, firm, and plump. Those from the milk-fed calf are best. If dark, flabby, and tough the sweetbreads have been taken from an improperly fed animal.
Sweetbreads are cheapest in the summer time. In some markets they are sold by the pair but they are frequently sold by the pound.
Sweetbreads are cellular organs, much more delicate than the muscle fiber. The connective tissue which surrounds them can be easily removed after they are parboiled and the sweetbread is readily divided into sections.
Sweetbreads should be parboiled as soon as they come from the market; they may then be kept from 30 to 40 hours if kept very cold.
Before cooking it is always necessary to soak sweetbreads one-half to one hour in cold water in order to draw out all the blood which may darken them when cooked. The pipes, fat, and all bruised portions must be cut away before cooking.
To parboil sweetbreads plunge them in boiling water and boil gently 15 to 20 minutes.
In order to blanch sweetbreads more perfectly a little lemon juice or vinegar is often added to the water in parboiling.
Onions and spices are sometimes added to the water in parboiling to improve the flavor.
After parboiling, the sweetbreads should be plunged in cold water to quickly cool so that they will be firm.
The methods of cooking sweetbreads are creaming, broiling, breading and frying, baking, and parboiling for use in salads.
Sometimes the sweetbreads are left in the breast and cooked with the roast of veal.
The delicate flavor of the sweetbreads must always be borne in mind in cooking and seasoning them.
Sweetbreads are among the most easily digested foods. Their digestion takes place very quickly because the connective tissue which they contain is readily dissolved in the stomach. As the gland itself contains some digestive ferment, sweetbreads may be said to be partly self-digesting.
While sweetbreads may be classed with meats among the protein foods they are not so stimulating as meats because they are lacking in extractives.
Because of the ease with which sweetbreads can be digested and because of their high nutritive value they are a valuable dish in the diet of a convalescent.
Remove sweetbreads from paper at once, soak in cold water 30 minutes and parboil 20 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt 5 minutes before they are done. Put them in cold water for 15 minutes, then remove the tough portions. Broil, fry, cream, or use the boiled sweetbreads in salads as desired.
1 pound or 1 pair of sweetbreads, boiled. 5 large mushrooms (half as many canned mushrooms as there are sweetbreads).
2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons flour 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cream or milk
Cut the boiled sweetbreads into small pieces and chop the mushrooms fine. Make a white sauce of butter, flour, seasonings, and cream. Add the sweetbreads and the mushrooms and when hot serve in patty dishes or timbales or on toast. If desired, the mushrooms may be omitted and twice as many sweetbreads used. A few drops of onion juice improve the flavor. Serves 8 to 10.