Veal Sweetbreads at McCrossen’s Tavern, you are quite the misunderstood dish!
It’s true. Many customers have no clue who I really am, but love to speculate. I’ve been mistaken for lungs, brains—even testicles!
Can you reveal your true identity?
I’m no mystery meat! I’m a thymus gland, usually found in young animals. Chef Townsend Wentz buys me from Pat LaFrieda Meats in New York.
Tell me how Chef Wentz prepares you.
First, I’m poached to medium rare in a court boullion—water, wine and black peppercorn—and then I’m peeled, sliced thick, seasoned with salt and pepper and sauteed.
How about your supporting cast?
That would be grilled veal tongue—also poached but for two hours, then sliced thick and grilled—plus Wentz’s pickled potatoes.
And what are the potatoes wearing?
They’re dressed while still warm from poaching with sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Then we add bacon, shallot, salt, pepper and piment de’espelette—a pepper from Southwest France that packs a small amount of heat and a distinct flavor.
Any finishing touches?
A sweet ’n’ savory au jus with whole grain and dijon mustards finished with sherry and butter.
Can you recommend a wine pairing?
Wentz likes to wash me down with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Decibel Wines in New Zealand.
What are customers saying about you?
Those who love sweetbreads think I’m the best. And of those who have never feasted on SB—or those who thought I was actually balls or brains—about half of them are sweetbread converts after tasting me.
Quite a feat for a little gland!
It’s not the size that matters—it’s the flavor. That came out wrong, but you get it.
McCrossen’s Tavern, 529 N. 20th St. 215.854.0923. mccrossens.com
Dinner with Luke Palladino