Why we avoid it:
The name sounds very carby, but sweetbreads are actually the nasty bits of veal, lamb or piglets. Sweetbreads are the thymus gland or the pancreas of the animal, and they automatically turn off a lot of people.
Why we should eat it:
Sweetbreads are actually praised for their silky texture, which is rare in most foods. They taste a little bit like bacon. Sweetbreads made from the thymus glands are called “throat sweetbread” and those from the pancreas, “heart sweetbread.” They more or less taste the same and can be cooked the same way.
You need to first remove the outer membrane before cooking it, though, and this may be a little tough. Once you’ve taken away the membrane, the gristle, the tubes and the other animal bits you don’t think you should eat, you can sear it without fear of overcooking it. The interior stays juicy while the outside gets crispy. Nutritionally, sweetbreads are made up of 75% protein and the rest is fat, the majority of which is unsaturated. It’s a good source of selenium, an important mineral that plays a role in thyroid function. It’s also pretty high in cholesterol, but that’s not a concern for your blood cholesterol levels or your risk of heart disease. Of all the offal meats, sweetbreads might be the most highly praised by chefs and connoisseurs for their flavor and texture.