Lamb sweetbreads with pea, watermelon, anchovy and saffron crisp

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Matt Gillan's artful vision is demonstrated with this sweetbread and anchovy recipe. The dish shows off a host of sunny colours from the saffron tapioca crisp, compressed watermelon and pea purée - all surprising and harmonious accompaniments to the lamb sweetbreads.

First published in 2015





  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 50g of cornflour
  • 50g of self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 dash of sparkling water, cold

Lamb sweetbreads

Saffron tapioca crisp

  • 100g of tapioca pearls, washed
  • 1000ml of water
  • 1g of saffron
  • sunflower oil, for deep frying
  • table salt


Pea purée

  • 250g of frozen peas
  • 150g of double cream
  • salt

Girolles mushrooms

Golden syrup glaze for sweetbreads

  • 100g of golden syrup
  • 50g of water
  • 1 pinch of salt


  • Hand blender
  • Thermometer
  • Vacuum bag and machine
  • Conical strainer
  • Dehydrator
  • Chinois


Begin by preparing the saffron tapioca crisp. Add the saffron and water to a pan, bring to the boil and add the tapioca pearls. Reduce the heat and cook gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally with a whisk. Once the pearls become transparent, tip into a medium conical strainer and allow to drain
  • 1000ml of water
  • 1g of saffron
  • 100g of tapioca pearls, washed
Spread the pearls onto dehydrator mats in a thin, even layer, then dehydrate at 50-60°C for 24 hours, until crispy
On the day of cooking, prepare the sweetbreads. Add the sweetbreads to a bowl and rinse under cold water for 10 minutes. Transfer to a pan, cover with fresh cold water and heat to 80°C
Once up to temperature, remove from the heat and leave until cool enough to handle, but still warm. Peel the membrane away from the sweetbreads, then refresh in an ice bath
Pat the sweetbreads dry and add to a vac pac bag with the garlic, onion seeds and sunflower oil. Seal tightly and leave to infuse in the fridge for at least 1 hour
Meanwhile, prepare the watermelon. Use a large, sharp knife to cut the melon into 1/2cm thick slices. Place the slices into a vac pac bag in a single layer and seal on full vacuum to compress
Set aside for 20-60 minutes - the longer you compress them for, the more intense the colour will be. Remove after compressing and cut into 1/2cm cubes
To prepare the pea purée, add the cream to a pan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, add the peas, return to the boil and allow to cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender, blitz until smooth and season to taste. Pass the purée through a chinois, pushing through with a ladle into a bowl set over ice
  • 250g of frozen peas
  • 150g of double cream
  • salt
To prepare the girolles, clean each mushroom (without getting them too wet) and remove the stems. Add the oil and butter to a pan, place over a medium heat and once the butter starts foaming, add the mushrooms
Add a splash of water and cook until tender, making sure the mushrooms are evenly cooked. Drain the mushrooms on kitchen paper, season and keep warm
Preheat a deep-fryer to 180°C
To prepare the anchovies for frying, sift the 2 types of flour together in a bowl, then slowly whisk in the sparkling water to create a thick batter. Lightly dust each anchovy in some self-raising flour, then drag through the batter to evenly coat. Deep-fry for 30-60 seconds until golden and crispy
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 50g of cornflour
  • 50g of self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 dash of sparkling water, cold
To prepare the glaze for the sweetbreads, add the golden syrup and water to a pan, bring to the boil and add the salt. Remove from the heat and set aside. Meanwhile, remove the sweetbreads from the vac pac bag
  • 100g of golden syrup
  • 50g of water
  • 1 pinch of salt
Add a dash of sunflower oil to a pan, place over a medium-high heat and once hot, pan-fry the sweetbreads until golden and crispy. Add 2 knobs of butter to the pan and baste constantly for 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and roll in the warm syrup glaze
Preheat a deep-fryer to 215°C
To finish the tapioca crisps, break the tapioca sheets into shards and deep-fry for 10-20 seconds until puffy. Drain on kitchen paper and season with table salt
To serve, arrange the girolles, diced compressed watermelon and dots of the pea purée around the centre of each plate, creating a space in the middle in which to place the glazed sweetbreads
Place a deep-fried anchovy and a shard of tapioca into the middle of each plate, garnish with coriander cress and serve immediately

A protégé of Daniel Clifford, Gordon Ramsay and John Campbell, Matt Gillan is well versed in the hallmarks of high-end cuisine, yet he retains a dazzling streak of originality.

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