Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chef Erik Desjarlais' Crispy Veal Sweetbreads, Braised Endive, and Bacon

I had an outstanding meal at Portland, Maine's Evangeline a few weeks ago.  To read about it, click here.  Chef Erik Desjarlais invited us into the kitchen afterward, and couldn't have been more warm and welcoming.  He agreed to contribute a recipe to my blog, and few weeks later, this is what he sent.  I unfortunately missed his sweetbreads on our meal there, but after reading this recipe, I have decided to make another trip to Portland just to try them!

Crispy Veal Sweetbreads, braised endive and bacon

One of my favorite foods to prepare is Veal sweetbreads. Poached then pressed, then fried crispy on the outside so they are molten and unctuous on the inside. They are just heady enough. Not as much as spleen, liver or lights, and not as delicate as brain.

Usually, one would soak them overnight in ice water, then poach them in court bouillon and press them overnight to maintain a shape for even cooking on the pick up.

At Evangeline, We skip a step and then add a step. We always have a ton of brine on hand for chickens, poussin, poularde, pheasant quails and various pork pieces. One day, after getting really pissed because a diner said the sweetbreads “tasted like chicken”, I finished my breathing/coping mechanism and decided to poach the sweetbreads in brine. It just made sense. And it made the most flavorful sweetbread I have ever tasted.

Soon thereafter we applied the brine to our calf brains and our Skate wing. The honey in the brine aided in caramelization, and the salt seasoned it from the inside out. It also leeches out any impurities and replaces them with flavor, which is nice too. The end result is clean, white, flavorful sweetbreads, brains and skate wing. The brains get boiling brine poured over them and we allow them to cool in it. After about 3 hours we take them out. The skate wings get cold brine poured over them and they chill for a few hours.

Here is the process for the sweetbreads. The braised Endive and bacon follow.

For the Sweets:

3# Veal sweetbreads, whole, preferably from toward the heart

.5 Gallon brine (formula follows)

2 C really fine breadcrumbs. (Cut crusts off a boule and discard. Cube the bread and dehydrate overnight. Pulse in a processor and pass through a tamis)

Oil for deep frying. We use 2/3 beef taloe, 1/3 canola


For the Endives:

6 Belgian endives

¼ # Applewood smoked bacon, cut in to lardon

2C dark chicken stock

¼ cup sugar

3 sprigs thyme

To finish:

3T cold unsalted butter

Sherry vinegar


.5 Gallon water

.5 cup Salt

.25 cup honey

6 bay leaves

6 cloves garlic

1Tb peppercorns

2Tb vinegar

For Brine:

Bring brine ingredients to a boil, simmer 3 minutes. Chill overnight without straining.

For Sweets:

Put raw sweetbreads in cold brine. Bring to a boil and return to a simmer. Poach 10 minutes at 190 degrees. Remove Sweetbreads and press between 2 sheet pans with a weight overnight.

For Endives:

Cut off the stem end of the Endive and cut in half lengthwise. Make a ¼” slice in to the core area to tenderize. Render raw bacon in a wide sauté pan, then remove, keeping the fat and fond in the bottom of the pan. Season Endives liberally with salt and pepper, and place cut side down in the pan. Over medium to low heat, caramelize the endives, then turn over. Don’t use tongs (ever…for anything). Deglaze with chicken stock and add the sugar and thyme. Simmer 30 minutes.

To finish:

Clean any strange fat and sinew off the pressed sweetbreads. Make sure your deep oil is at 360 degrees. Season the sweets with salt and pepper and press in to the bread crumbs so they stick. Drop them in the oil and fry until Golden Brown Delicious. This should take about 9 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm the endive sauce until bubbling and add a few drops of sherry vinegar and the butter. Adjust seasonings. Emulsify the butter. Plate the endive sauce and place fried sweetbreads atop. Make sure you pat them dry with c-fold towels first, and sprinkle more sel fin over them.


1 comment: