Lamb’s sweetbreads, sorrel, herb & summer vegetable salad

by Ed Smith

Fresh, crunchy summer salad with soft and buttery sweetbreads

As I explained in my article on the unmentionables, sweetbreads are a more accessible prospect than penis and testicles, both in terms of getting others to eat them with you, but also tracking them down.

The citrusy sorrel leaves cut through the richness of the offal and peppery breakfast radishes make for a good way to raise the nostril hairs, and to add a striking colour to the mix. Fresh mint and chervil give it a lift, added to that a coalition of vibrant vegetables, including fresh peas, mangetout and ribbons of yellow courgette, all of which are sweet and crunchy.

The result? It was a winner. The sweetbreads were bouncy, but also soft. A little metallic in taste, but still relatively mild, even sweet and particularly good when eaten on the same fork as the summery salad. The freshness and crunch of the peas and courgettes were also welcome alongside the texture of the offal. Give it a go!


500g lamb’s sweetbreads, Ginger Pig
3 tbsp sunflower oil
100g butter
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt

For the salad:
2 small yellow courgettes, Chegworth Valley
1 bunch breakfast radishes, Elsey and Bent
1 gem lettuce, Elsey and Bent
100g bag of sorrel, from Chegworth Valley
200g fresh peas in their pods, from Ted’s Veg
100g mangetout, from Ted’s Veg
Leaves from 5 sprigs mint, roughly chopped from Chegworth Valley
Leaves picked from 15 sprigs chervil, from Chegworth Valley

For the dressing:
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tsp maple syrup
Sea salt


Put the sweetbreads in a bowl and cover with cold water. Drain the water and repeat two times, then fill the bowl once more, leaving the sweetbreads to soak for an hour, then drain.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Blanch the sweetbreads for 5 mins. Drain and plunge into iced water or leave under a running cold tap until cool. Use your thumb and fore finger to push any tight knots of fat and the membrane from the sweetbreads, drain and dry on a kitchen towel. Chill in the fridge until required (you could do this first part well in advance if you wish).

When ready to eat, use a vegetable peeler to peel ribbons from the courgettes, wash the radishes and cut in half lengthways, separate the lettuce leaves and cut the largest in half, cut the sorrel leaves in half, pod the peas and wash the mangetout. Set to one side.

Whisk the salad dressing ingredients in a large bowl until emulsified and set to one side.

Place a heavy bottomed or cast iron frying pan over a high heat. Add the sunflower oil and allow it to heat almost to smoking point. Place the sweetbreads on the hot oil, and allow to sear for 60 secs before turning.

Sear the other side of the sweetbreads for another 60 secs, then add the butter and allow to froth and brown for 2-3 mins more, moving the sweetbreads around so they colour nicely. Squeeze the lemon juice in, season generously with salt and remove from the heat.

Toss the salad in the dressing bowl. Decant into 4 individual bowls or plates and divide the sweetbreads between them. Eat immediately.

Recipe & images: Ed Smith