Offal and Waffle, crispy fried sweetbreads and sweet, fluffy waffles, is a dish we’ve been thinking about making for a while now. It’s the ultimate in highbrow meets lowbrow, a twist on the classic Chicken and Waffle, with an unusual main ingredient: veal sweetbreads.
Let me just say: if you’ve never tried sweetbreads, well, you’re missing out. They offer a flavor and texture that is not found in anything else. And, they’re amazing: delicate, soft, creamy, rich. It’s not always easy to try new things, especially when they seem scary, but these are truly something to try. My bet is that you’ll end up loving them!
Several different organs can be sold as veal sweetbreads, but the most common organ is the thymus. We usually call our butcher a few days ahead and make sure that they can guarantee us only thymus, as it’s the organ we prefer to work with. While not very expensive at all (they cost about $10/lbs.), sweetbreads do require some prep work before cooking.
At least 8 hours before you want to cook sweetbreads, you should begin soaking them in cold water. Put the sweetbreads in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge. We usually soak them overnight before using. This cleans the organs, removes any blood, and other impurities. It’s important to change the water 3-4 times while soaking.
After soaking, sweetbreads should be blanched. This makes them easier to work with by firming them up a bit. Put the soaked sweetbreads in a pot, cover with water, and but on the stove over medium-high heat. Once the water boils, turn down and simmer for about 3-5 minutes, then drain and put in an iced water bath to stop cooking. Now, it’s time to clean the organs. Soaking and blanching has made most of the connective tissue semi-detached and you can pull off all the excess. The organ will come apart naturally in small and medium pieces. This is what you want.
For this dish, after soaking, blanching, and cleaning, we soaked them again, only this time in buttermilk, in prep for frying. Luckily, this second soaking only takes an hour or so.
After about 50 minutes or so, heat a pot of oil (approx 48 oz./one large bottle of oil) on the stove to 350 degrees. Once the oil hits temperature, you’re ready to fry. Drain the buttermilk from the sweetbreads, dredge them in a breading mixture and throw them in the hot oil in batches.
For the breading, we used:
1/4 cup course cornmeal
1/4 cup fine cornmeal
1 tbs. dried parsley
2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Freshly cracked pepper