Perhaps a bit intimidating, I can’t recommend sweetbreads enough – both for eating and for cooking! Just go for it!
1 pound veal sweetbreads (you may have to special order these from a high quality meat
about 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbl butter
1 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing on the bread
1 large shallot, peeled and finely diced
2 oz pancetta, finely diced
12 oz wild mushrooms (chanterelle, enoki, trumpet, etc.), trimmed, cleaned & thinly sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 small garlic clove, peeled and minced
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbl fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 Tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 loaf French bread, sliced on the diagonal into 8 1-inch slices
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To prepare the sweetbreads: If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Gently remove the ‘pipes’ (tube-like bands running between the sweetbread clusters) and tough membranes covering the sweetbreads. Soak the sweetbreads in cool water for 1 hour, draining and changing the water every 15 minutes. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a simmer, then add the sweetbreads and gently simmer for 20 minutes. Drain then transfer the sweetbreads to an ice bath to cool, for 5 minutes. Drain the sweetbreads and pat dry with paper towels. Refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours. Slice on the bias into 4 serving-size portions. Keep refrigerated in an air-tight container until needed.
To assemble the dish: Preheat an oven broiler and arrange a rack about 10-inches beneath. Brush both sides of each bread slice with extra-virgin olive oil, then place on a foil-lined sheet tray. Set aside until needed.
Pat dry the sweetbreads with paper towels, then season generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Dredge into the flour, then pat the sweetbreads to remove any excess flour.
Add the butter and 1 Tbl olive oil in a large sauté. Melt the butter over medium-high heat, then add the flour-coated sweetbreads to the pan. Sauté, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes total. The remove the sweetbreads to a plate, and reserve until needed.
Keep the pan over medium-high heat and add the shallots. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the diced pancetta to the pan and cook until lightly crispy, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shallot-pancetta mixture to a plate and reserve until needed.
Increase the heat to high, wait a half minute, then add the sliced mushrooms. Saute, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, about 1 minute mores.
Return the shallot-pancetta mixture to the pan, then add the cream. Stir to combine, then add the sweetbreads to the pan, nestling them in the sauce. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the sauce thickens, enough to just coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Add the parsley and lemon juice and stir to combine. Taste, then season as needed with salt and pepper.
While the sweetbread and sauce cook, you can toast the bread. Place under the broiler and toast, turning once, until both sides are golden brown, about 4 minutes total. Be careful not to over-toast the bread – You still want it tender inside.
Arrange two slices of toasted bread on each of four serving plates. Place 1 portion of sweetbreads atop each plate, then spoon the mushroom cream sauce over the sweetbreads and bread, evenly dividing it between the 4 plates. Serve immediately.