The Argentine asado, the celebration that goes on every time someone lights up the grill, is one of the most entertaining feasts a meat lover could find.
Argentines know a thing or two about meat, their free-roaming cattle is prized worldwide, and with fine animals like these, everything is exquisite, and not just it’s meat.
This is the story of sweetbreads, a somewhat controversial “alternative” meat that you just have to try. We’re sure you’re quite fond of steaks, but once you try tender, meaty sweetbreads, you’ll think of grilling in a whole different way.
What are sweetbreads anyway?
Sweetbreads are thymus glands that serve a vital purpose on all mammals; they’re a central part of our immune systems. As food, calf’s sweetbreads are the most prized, as they have the right size and texture.
As for the flavor, grilled sweetbreads are a combination of extreme tenderness and crisp crust, pleasing smoke and charcoal aromas, and a comforting, meatiness that makes them a staple in every asado. Don’t think this delicacy is cheap, though, there’s not enough to go around, and the prices rise because of the high demand.
Traditional asados will include ribs and prime cuts, but blood sausages, chorizos, kidneys, and of course, sweetbreads. Wine and good company bring all the elements together in a unique experience that might resemble outdoor grilling in other places on earth, but it has no comparison.
Are you ready to try sweetbreads?
We agree, no one is dying to taste sweetbreads, but once they do, they fall in love with them. To help you take on your new challenge and bring you closer to the authentic Argentine asado, we have a recipe for you.
The first step is choosing the right sweetbreads since there are two types. Ones located near the neck of the cow, and other ones right below, in the rib cage. Although both are delicious, the second ones, sometimes called “heart sweetbreads,” are what you want to try first.
The second step involves cleaning the sweetbreads. Some people might blanch them in boiling water for a few seconds before throwing them in a cold bath, but that’s a luxury you don’t have when grilling out in the open, so rinse them in cold water, and they’ll be ready for the fire.
There are dozens of ways to cook sweetbreads, but we’ll introduce you to an easy one: Butterfly Sweetbreads with Lime. Let’s get cookin’!
Grilled Butterfly Sweetbreads with Lime
Ingredients: Sweetbreads, freshly squeezed lime juice, and salt.
- Make sure your grill is sizzling hot. If you can adjust the grid’s height, set it at medium height.
- Season your clean sweetbreads with salt and lime juice and place on the grill. Wait 30 minutes.
- Flip the sweetbreads (just once) and cook for 10 more minutes.
- Remove from the grill and cut halfway through, butterfly style.
- Add a drizzle of lime juice and enjoy.
Replace juice with a splash of white wine for a different take, and enjoy your sweetbreads with an oily, aromatic sauce like chimichurri.
Try making your own sweetbreads and invite your friends and family — food like this is meant to be shared!
If you want to know more about Argentine grilling and become a grill master, check our website and be part of the flavorful world of Argentine asado.