Time to get back to the core activities of the Rebel Rivers Canoe Club: cooking and watching people cook. There have been many elegant meals prepared on the riverbanks of Middle Tennessee, but nothing says RRCC like its signature dish of homemade, southern-style sweetbreads.
Sweetbread is the culinary term for the thymus gland (in the throat) and the pancreas (near the stomach) taken from calves, lambs or pigs. The OED cites the first appearance of sweetbread in print in 1565. In 1578, The Historie of Man had this description: "A certaine Glandulous part, called Thimus, which in Calues...is most pleasaunt to be eaten. I suppose we call it the sweete bread." But here at the RRCC we call them like we see them and therefore we call this appetizer "goat balls." Which may cause some confusion to those outside the Club since testicles used in cooking are known as sweetmeat, not sweetbread.
The first appearance of sweetbread on an RRCC trip was May 25, 2004, on the East Fork of the Stones River when it was introduced to the membership by Jim Myers. Here is a picture of that pleasaunt delicacy just after it was caught but before Jim worked his magic.
Sweetbreads must be trimmed first, tubes and gristle cut off, then soaked until they are white, blanched for a few minutes, skin and nerves removed and pressed between two boards with a small weight on top to shape them nicely. Here is an actual field demonstration of the meat separation process:
After the membranes are removed, Jim gently sautés the meat in butter with shallots, garlic and white wine.