Pan-Seared Sweetbreads

Sweetbreads are glands that come from the throat or near the heart of a calf or lamb. The glands near the heart tend to be more tender. Don’t skip the parboiling step, this preserves the color and firms the texture of the meat.

Serves: 4Hands-on: 30 minutesTotal: 3 hours 10 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 4


  • 4 veal sweetbread lobes, 6 oz. each
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. salt
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1⁄4 cup vinegar
  • 1⁄4 tsp. white pepper
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 tsp. honey
  • 4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley


  • If the sweetbreads are frozen, let them thaw slowly in the refrigerator or under a running stream of cool water. Do not thaw in a microwave. Place them in a bowl of ice-water to cover for 20 minutes.
  • Place water in a stockpot with 1 teaspoon of salt, lemon juice, and vinegar over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to low, and add the sweetbreads. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove them from the water and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Let them rest for 10 minutes and remove any fat, outer membranes or remnants of tubes. Pat dry.
  • Slice the sweetbreads so they are 1⁄4 inch thick. Place on a tray between two layers of parchment paper. Rest a heavy plate on top and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the sweetbreads. Place a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon slices and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and reserve for another use. Add the butter and slide in one layer of the sweetbreads. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Cook in batches if necessary.
  • Add the honey and balsamic vinegar to the skillet and bring to a simmer before returning the sweetbreads to the skillet and tossing them to coat evenly. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.