Crispy Fried Sweetbreads with Dill Pickle & Grain Mustard Relish, Parsley Salad & Lemon

Makes 6-8 hearty appetizers

Sweetbreads are one of those things that if cooked properly – and if you took a bite without thinking – you would likely say, “Yum, what was that unbelievable thing I just had?” Unfortunately, all too often, people think themselves out of trying this delicacy. Don’t be scared! Sweetbreads are just another part of the animal that should be utilized to the fullest, out of respect for the animal and due to the fact that they can taste great! That said, here’s an easy way to initiate yourself. Rather than having a whole entrée serving at once, these little nuggets allow for sharing and would be perfect as an appetizer.


  • 1 lb. Sweet Breads, veal or beef
  • As needed: Cold Water, to cover
  • 3 cups Whole Milk, to cover
  • 5 Garlic Cloves – 4 whole and unpeeled, plus 1 for later
  • 3 Thyme Sprigs – 2 left whole, plus 1 plucked of leaves for later
  • 1/2 tsp. White Peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup Sweet Onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 cup Wondra Flour
  • To taste: Kosher Salt and Black Pepper, freshly ground
  • To taste Garlic Salt
  • 1 Whole Dill Pickle, kosher-style, seeded and diced
  • 1 Tbsp. Whole Grain Mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Mayonnaise, Polish if possible for a cleaner bite (available at European-style grocery stores)
  • 2 Lemons – 1 sliced in half for juicing, 1 with ends removed, quartered and seeded
  • As needed: Canola or Vegetable Oil, for frying As needed: Kosher or Sea Salt
  • 1-1/2 cups Fresh Parsley, leaves only
  • 1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil


  1. Place sweetbreads in a bowl of ice water and refrigerate for at least for a few hours.
  2. In a medium-size pot, combine milk, 4 garlic cloves, 2 sprigs of thyme, white peppercorns, onions and salt. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Remove sweetbreads from ice water and place into the cooled milk-poaching liquid. Gently bring to a simmer, then take pot off of heat. Let sweetbreads sit in poaching liquid for 10 min., then remove from liquid and place into a snug container. Place a similar-size container on top of sweetbreads to compress. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
  3. Remove sweetbreads from container and gently peel away as much sinew as possible while retaining a “nugget” shape and separating into bite-size pieces. Place sweetbreads into a bag or small container with remaining garlic clove and thyme leaves, plus buttermilk. Toss to coat and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Meanwhile, combine Wondra Flour with salt, pepper and garlic salt. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine diced pickle with mustard, mayonnaise, the first measure of parsley and juice from 1/2 of lemon. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Approx. 10 min. before serving, pour a large pot about 1/3 full with Canola or vegetable oil, then heat to 375 F degrees (do not overheat). Remove sweetbreads from buttermilk mixture, wiping away garlic cloves and excess liquid. Dredge in Wondra Flour mixture and shake off excess. Place dredged sweetbreads in hot oil and fry until golden-brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon or “spider,” then place onto paper towels to absorb oil. Season with a bit of salt.
  6. Serve fried sweetbreads with pickle relish, lemon wedges and additional parsley leaves, dressed with juice from remaining 1/2 lemon and drizzle of olive oil.

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