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What are sweetbreads?

Can you please resolve a dispute among friends: What are sweetbreads?

Sweetbreads are the thymus or pancreas gland – usually from young milk-fed veal or calves. (When the animals are older, the sweetbreads are chewier). Sweetbreads consist of two lobes connected by a tube (which is usually removed before selling). One lobe is near the throat (that's the thymus gland), and the more delicately flavored, creamier, and therefore more prized pancreas lobe is near the heart or stomach.

Sweetbreads should be creamy white and full looking when you buy them. They are highly perishable and must be soaked in several changes of acidulated water before cooking.