Carla and I are moving. As can be expected, a lot of worrisome thoughts have been floating through my head. For instance, I've become accustomed to grocery stores regularly stocking tongue, tripe, beef cheeks, and oxtails, as our current area has a large Hispanic population who still have the huevos to ask their grocers for the good stuff. The thought that I might lose that convenience makes me feel quite liverish (pun intended).But on a past house-hunting expedition, I found some hope. In the new grocery store's freezer section they had pig feet, sweetbreads, and tongue. I snapped up the sweet breads, ruminating how to best put them in my tummy.
Sweetbreads are the most white tablecloth of organ meats. If they were a steak, they'd be filet mignon; mild, tender, and a good crowd pleaser. Plus, you can fry them! And everyone loves crunchy, fried food. But since it's still hot, I needed a cold dish. So why not a pate? A little salad on the side, some chutney, bread... Oh, I should mention that sweetbreads are the thymus and pancreas of veal. Sometimes lamb, but I've never seen it for sale. Today I was dealing with the pancreas, which is shaped like a big lump. The thymus is shaped like a skinny sausage, since it's located in the throat.Sweetbreads are easy to cook, but like most organ meats require some cleaning. Toss them in boiling, salted water, then kill the heat and let them sit for a few minutes. This will firm them up and make them easier to handle. Trim off any hard bits of membrane. If you want to fry them, use a 16 oz can of tomatoes to press them for an hour or two, which will help to flatten them into a fry-able shape.
For this pate, I mixed a pound of veal liver (chopped), a pound of sweetbreads (whole), and a pound of pork country ribs (ground). This gives the pate a nice mosaic pattern, along with alternating textures. I mixed it with brandy, whole green peppercorns, nutmeg, coriander, clove, fresh thyme, heavy cream, and a small amount of garlic and onion.All in all this, pate really hit the spot. The pate wasn't too heavy, but a nice summertime entree for when it's too hot to fire up the oven. The sweetbreads were mild, but in a nice way to even out the liver-flavor. I couldn't find my chutney, so I paired it with some tiny pickled raisins for a sweet/sharp bite.