These delicate, creamy morsels are the favoured offal of many a chef and gastronome. Sweetbreads are subject to much confusion, and are often mistakenly believed to be the testicles of an animal. In fact, they’re two separate glands - the thymus gland (from the throat) and the pancreas gland (from the heart or stomach) that are taken from calves or lambs.
Sweetbreads are available from good butchers, but may need to be ordered in advance. Calves’ sweetbreads may come from European veal; if animal welfare is a concern, look for sweetbreads that come from higher welfare British rosé veal (available from some small producers, online suppliers and good butchers).
Sweetbreads benefit from being soaked in several changes of cold water for a few hours before being simmered gently for just a few minutes in a light stock. Allow to cool then trim off any sinew or gristle. At this stage they can be reheated whole or in slices with a creamy sauce, or lightly dusted in flour or breadcrumbs and pan-fried.