The power of reduction – sweetbreads with fingerling potatoes, fresh English peas, asparagus and pearl onions with sherry beef jus

Aside from making the bouillabaisse on Monday, I was also busy making beef stock and poaching and pressing sweetbreads for dinner on Tuesday. 

Over the weekend Erin and I went to the Carrboro Farmer’s Market and saw only one stand with fresh peas – a definite highlight of spring for both of us (up there with with ramps, young and tender asparagus and the smell of honeysuckle).

English Peas

English Peas

 

For the record, just over 3 pounds of peas (still in the pod) nets 1 pint when all’s said and done:

Peas ready to eat

Peas ready to eat

 

To cook them, bring a large pot of very salted water to a boil and blanch until they’re just cooked through, remove and place in an ice bath.

For the other components of the meal I had to: cook the fingerling potatoes which I’d sliced on the bias (place in a pot with cold water, salt, some thyme sprigs, a couple of bay leaves and a small handful of black peppercorn, bring to a boil then check for doneness.  When done, place in an ice bath.); blanch the asparagus (use the same water and ice bath as the peas, then cut on the bias); roast the pearl onions (just barely slice both ends of the onion off, place on a sheet tray, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper, then place in an oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until soft, wait until cooled then peel); and make the sauce.

Mis en place (clockwise from upper left) - sweetbreads, fingerling potatoes, pearl onions, peas, sherry beef jus, seasoned flour for dredging, asparagus)

Mis en place (clockwise from upper left) - sweetbreads, fingerling potatoes, pearl onions, peas, sherry beef jus, seasoned flour for dredging, asparagus)

For the sauce, I brought all the beef stock I’d made the previous day to a boil with about a cup and a half two two cups of sherry (veal stock also works wonderfully but I didn’t feel like jumping through hoops to get my hands on veal bones).  Keep reducing throughout the day, straining every time you move it to a smaller pot, and make sure to skim it throughout the day.  When it comes to the right consistency remove from heat and season, then cool.  My 8 quarts or so yielded about a cup and a half of finished sauce.

Here’s how gelatinous the sauce should be when it’s cold:

Sherry beef jus (cold)

Sherry beef jus (cold)

 

To finish the dish, heat a pan with vegetable oil and a little butter, place the fingerlings in the pan, season.  Once the potatoes just start to brown, flip them over and add the pearl onions (I did 4 per person), then add the asparagus and peas (you just need to reheat these since they’ve already been cooked).  Keep warm.

To cook the sweetbreads, heat a pan over high heat, add a generous amount of vegetable oil and a little butter.  Coat the sweetbreads in seasoned flour, then place in the pan.  Once they are golden brown, flip with a spoon or tongs and cook the other side until golden brown.  Remove from pan and place on paper towel to drain.

Here’s what the final dish ended up looking like:

Finished dish

Finished dish

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2 thoughts on “The power of reduction – sweetbreads with fingerling potatoes, fresh English peas, asparagus and pearl onions with sherry beef jus

  1. did you shuck the peas themselves? I had to do that when I was a stage in France and I wasn’t too excited with my small cup of peas it yeilded. The dishes look great. I sure do wish I had back to back days off to plan the incredible menus you create.

  2. Yeah, I shucked those peas myself, which took about an hour. But I found out during that time that my dog likes peas. She was unsure at first, but after the she tasted the first one she was hooked.

    I’m glad at work that I don’t have to deal with the peas, other than blanching them. When I come in they’re already dealt with.

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