L'Imparfait Parfait

If you speak French, you might think the title of this post means The Imperfect Perfect.

Close. It means The Imperfect Parfait.

And that, in itself, is misleading because it wasn't the parfait that was imperfect, it was the recipe.

Even then, it was less an imperfect recipe and more a recipe lost in translation.

My friend Greg, from Sippity Sup, recently wrote a post on interpreting recipes; it's definitely worth reading. Translating/interpreting recipes is something we, as cooks, do all the time. We look at old recipe cards and cookbooks - even new cookbooks - and we do our best to create the dish the author intended.

It doesn't always work. There is an art to writing a recipe so that it is clear to anyone, especially a beginner. Sometimes we need to redo the recipe to make it work.

Today's recipe is one of those recipes. It came from Wine Grower and Food Lover... Régine Sumeire - 50 Family Recipes. She tells us that the original recipe is from a friend of hers in Québec, and the Régine shares her edited version. I saw the title and was immediately smitten.

Parfait of Sweetbreads? Oh, my! But looking at the recipe, I knew this was going to require some serious translation. Several other people I know looked at it, as well, and felt there was something missing. My first attempt was made as written. We ended up with an unctuous soup, not a parfait. But the flavor was exquisite. It was now time to tinker.

For the second trial of the recipe, I took the advice of my friend Susan, a Cordon Bleu grad, and also made a few of my own changes. Voilà, it was perfection. I served it with a rosé from the source - La Source Gabriel, a wine created by Reegine Sumeire (Château La Tour de l'Évêque) and her nephew, Roger Blanc Sumeire (Domaine Font-Freye). For more about the wine pairing, visit the Provence WineZine.

I love sweetbreads, and I think you all know that I am speaking of offal, and not breakfast treats. Sweetbreads are the thymus gland of a cow. “Sweetbreads” sounds much nicer, less clinical, doesn't it?

This recipe won't be for everyone. In fact Susan, my friend from the Provence WineZine, is rather creeped out by sweetbreads. For her, and those of you in her camp, I promise a lovely recipe for pasta with grilled seafood next week.

Wishing you perfection with every recipe!

~ David

Parfait of Sweetbreads

I show the original recipe page in the photos of the book above. The recipe that follows works. It is my version of Régine’s version of her friend’s version.

1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup tawny Port
1/4 pound sweetbreads
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place diced onions in a shallow ovenproof saucepan and pour the Port over the onions. Top with the sweetbreads, in once piece. Cover, and bake for 50 minutes.

Remove from the oven, uncover, and set aside sweetbreads on a plate to cool. Place saucepan with onions, Port, and pan juices over medium heat. Cook until liquids are syrupy.

Put cooled sweetbreads in the bowl of a small food processor with a steel blade. Add the reduced port/onion mixture, and process until evenly chopped. Add the lemon juice, butter, and season with salt and pepper. Pulse until the mixture is silky.

Press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Scoop the parfait into a serving bowl or glass. You will have about 1/2 cup. Smooth the top and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Remove from the refrigerator about 1/2 hour before serving. Spread on water crackers or toasted bread, and serve with a chilled rosé, Sauternes, or a kir.

Serves 4.

Note: this recipe makes very little in quantity, but it is extremely rich and a little goes a long way.

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