Feature photo by Stuart Spivack

Anyone who has ever visited Argentina cannot forget the asado—the wondrous capabilities of flank steak or the discovery of chimichurri sauce. Mollejas are another delicious Argentine indulgence, simple to grill and impressive at any asado. In Argentina, sweetbreads are seen as a treat, not a punishment inflicted by grandma. In the United States, most people shudder at the thought of organ meat, but who can blame us?  After all, even the term sweetbread sounds like a word invented by a tired mother coaxing her child to finish eating the food on his plate.

So what are mollejas, exactly? If you must know it is the thymus gland, and there is one per cow. Still don’t know what they are? Maybe it’s better that way. In any case you can purchase mollejas at your local butcher. They should be fresh with a pinkish white color. Once you bring mollejas home, you should grill them immediately. Rinse, pat dry, splash with lemon and grill until the outside is golden brown, but not burnt. The final texture should be something between a chicken and shrimp, but without the seafood taste. Serve hot with another fresh squeeze of lemon and a dash of salt. If you like, serve with a full-bodied red wine. Most importantly, don’t tell your guests what they ate until after the fact. They will never guess they just ate beef sweetbread.

Can’t find mollejas at your butcher? Take a trip to the Argentine grocery store, El Mercado Food Mart, located on 3767 N Southport Avenue. Not ready to grill mollejas on your own? Try an Argentine restaurant like Tango Sur.

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