Sweetbreads are a rarity at most restaurants, but executive chef Raymond Tatum has made the rich organ meat his signature dish at Austin’s talked-about 612 West (612 W. Sixth). “People tell me that I make the best sweetbreads,” Tatum says. “And personally I really like them. It’s only human instinct to keep doing something you do well.” Tatum created this popular meal as the chef at Jeffrey’s, another cutting-edge Austin restaurant, nearly six years ago. The challenge of the recipe is in the timing: Both the meat and the accompanying golden corn cakes, topped with the incendiary chipotle-sage sauce, must be served hot off the stove. Your effort will be rewarded with a savory and eminently satisfying slow burn.
2 tablespoons canned chipotle chiles, seeded and julienne cut
2 tablespoons liquid from canned chiles
3 shallots, sliced
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 stick butter, cut in pieces
12 small whole sage leaves
Place first 4 ingredients in small saucepan over medium heat and reduce volume by 3/4. Add butter piece by piece, shaking pan until incorporated. Add sage leaves.
1 3/4 pounds sweetbreads
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour to dredge
2 to 3 tablespoons clarified butter
Soak sweetbreads for 6 hours in refrigerator in enough water to cover, changing water 2 or 3 times. Blanch sweetbreads in boiling salted water for 20 minutes; plunge into ice water. When sweetbreads are cool, peel off membrane and trim any tough parts, portion into 2-ounce pieces, and flatten slightly with your hand. Season, dredge in flour, and pan fry in clarified butter over medium heat until brown and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Cheddar Corn Cakes
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup white cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 shallots, minced
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Sautè corn in butter for 5 to 7 minutes, until golden. Place in bowl; mix in next 5 ingredients. In separate bowl mix together egg, oil, and milk. Then combine both mixtures and add cheese.
Spoon about 3 tablespoons of batter on hot griddle or skillet for each corn cake. Cook each side until light brown.
To serve, place 3 corn cakes on plate and top with 3 pieces of sweetbreads. Pour chipotle-sage sauce over sweetbreads. Serves 4.