Pan-fried lamb sweetbreads with pea purée, sous vide shallots and asparagus spears

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This sweetbreads recipe by Sean Hope features the verdant flavours of late spring and early summer. Alongside the sweetbreads are asparagus spears, shallots, pea purée and fresh peas, all tied together neatly with a rich lamb and Madeira sauce. For more recipes that revel in nose-to-tail eating, visit our offal collection.

First published in 2015




Lamb sweetbreads

Pea purée


Roast confit shallots

  • 4 shallots, preferably Vigarmor, peeled
  • 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil, plus extra for frying
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 tbsp of sherry vinegar
  • lemon zest, 1 x 1cm piece
  • 1 tsp honey

Fresh peas

Lamb sauce

To serve


  • Blender
  • Sous vide equipment


To start the dish, make the lamb sauce. Add a drizzle of oil to a frying pan and fry off the shallot and garlic. Add the rosemary, lemongrass and stocks, bring to the boil and reduce by half. Pass through a fine sieve then add the Madeira to refresh the sauce. Set aside until ready to serve
For the confit shallots, place the shallots into a vacuum pouch with the rest of the ingredients. Seal on full vacuum and place in a preheated water bath at 85°C. Cook for 45 minutes
Once cooked, remove the shallots from the vacuum pouch and allow to drain. Set aside for frying later
To prepare the sweetbreads, heat up a pan of water to a rolling boil. Blanch the fresh sweetbreads for 30 seconds, then refresh in iced water to halt the cooking process
Strain, pat dry, then carefully peel away the outer membrane and remove any sinew. Set aside for frying later
For the pea purée, pod the peas and blanch for 2 minutes in boiling salted water. Heat the cream and butter in a saucepan, then add to the peas and blend to a smooth purée. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm
To cook the sweetbreads, place a frying pan over a medium heat and add the rapeseed oil. Lightly dust the sweetbreads with the seasoned flour then carefully add to the pan. Add the garlic, rosemary and butter and evenly colour the sweetbreads until light golden brown - cooking for approximately 4 minutes on each side
Once the sweetbreads are cooked, deglaze the pan with a splash of sherry vinegar and season
Pat the confit shallots dry with some kitchen paper, cut in half lengthways then sear in a hot frying pan with a drizzle of rapeseed oil until golden brown
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the asparagus spears for 3 minutes. Remove from the pan, cut in half lengthways, brush with melted butter and season with black pepper
For the fresh peas, pod the peas and blanch for 3 minutes in salted boiling water. Strain, add a knob of butter and season with salt and pepper. Reheat the lamb sauce
To serve, spoon some pea purée down the middle of each plate to create nice green strips. Top with the lamb sweetbreads, then arrange the asparagus halves over and around the sweetbreads
Scatter around some peas and pea shoots, add a couple of shallot halves and finally, spoon over the lamb sauce and some of the deglazed juices from the sweetbreads pan

Hope’s is honest cooking - backed by a deep knowledge of his surroundings and its traditions, as well as an unparalleled ability to coax exceptional flavours out of tiny Rutland’s countryside.

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