There are few things that, when slapped between tortillas and christened with spicy condiments, fail to get me excited. Making it a shame that the vast majority of Mexican restaurants near us have such a limited spectrum of taco fillings. Not that I don’t enjoy carnitas, carne asada, fish or chicken tacos, I very definitely do, but that there is something of a tyranny inherent in this four-point agenda.
Recently, after our meaty dust-up with the Uruguyuan-style tablita parillada, we found ourselves with a surfeit of grilled sweetbreads (aka mollejas in Spanish, aka thymus glands in biology), and were looking for creative ways to use this most succulent of leftovers. Ever the slayers of convention, we sought to break this taco-based tyranny, and gently reheated our sweetbreads combining them with a crunchy, tangy salsa of radish, roasted corn and grape tomato, all wrapped in a blue corn tortilla for a dramatic finish.
In this process, we learned that throughout the South-West USA and northern Mexico, taco stands offering sweetbreads (as well as other tasty fillings including tongue and tripe) are so common you just about fall over them at every corner. All of which made us feel slightly less original in our preparation, but no less enthusiastic about its merits. Indeed, it was reassuring to know that places still exist in this condensed and standardized world where you can be openly and brazenly glandular should the feeling so move you.
- 8oz cleaned and poached sweetbreads
- 4-6 corn tortillas
- 4 large red radishes, finely sliced into rings
- 1/2 medium red onion
- 6oz grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 ear yellow corn (sweet corn),boiled and roasted/grilled)
- 3tbsp cilantro(coriander leaf), finely chopped
- juice of 1-2 limes
- black pepper
- 3tbsp vegetable oil
- Pre-heat flat-top, griddle or heavy skillet to medium-high
- Grill corn cob on said hot surface until browned (but not blackened) on all sides. Allow corn to cool.
- When fully cooled, slice off kernels and, in a bowl, combine with radish, onion, tomato, cilantro and lime juice.
- Allow salsa to improve for at least half an hour or as long as overnight. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Gently grill/griddle your poached sweetbreads until nicely golden-brown on all sides. (10-12minutes). Squeeze lime juice over them and set aside.
- In a skillet or flat-top at medium high heat, add a teaspoon of oil and quickly soften enough tortillas (2-4) for first course (you’ll want seconds). Do not allow tortillas to “fry”, only to puff up a little and become pliable.
- Combine your sweetbreads, salsa and tortillas to make your tacos. Other possible condiments include guacamole, crema (sour cream), hot sauce, pickled onions, pickled carrots, sliced cabbage, pico de gallo, rajas, etc..
- Enjoy with a cold beer.