Sweetbread tacos with cauliflower purée and habanero oil

Sweetbread tacos with cauliflower purée and habanero oil

Hungry For That
Lauren Bamford

A few years back, I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening of an Argentinian restaurant in Sydney named Porteño. I was so taken by the big dramatic room with great décor and a large fire pit. Like at all good openings, whether it be an art show, a restaurant or a shop, the crowd’s focus was on everything but the reason they were there – in this case, the food. My intention to eat a bunch of stuff didn’t eventuate that night, not because there wasn’t great food but because there were just too many people in the way for me to really check out the menu.

I returned a few months later to find the owners, Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz, at the chopping boards that look out over the dining room. I was watching Ben chop some sweetbreads when, with the back of his knife, he pushed some my way. I was blown away; I had never tasted sweetbreads prepared like this before. Ever since, sweetbreads have been a staple at all of my barbecues. I just ask my butcher to put them aside for me.


Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon salt
250g sweetbreads, (preferable veal)
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 Corn tortillas
lemon juice, to serve

Cauliflower purée

Quantity Ingredient
300g cauliflower, cut into florets
500ml chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pouring cream
1 teaspoon butter
1 garlic clove, crushed

Habanero oil

Quantity Ingredient
2 habanero chillies, (substitute dried if you can't find fresh)
125ml olive oil


  1. To prepare the habanero oil, remove and discard the stems from the chillies and slice them in half lengthways. (Be sure to wear gloves while handling the chillies.) Heat a small saucepan over low heat and dry-fry the habaneros for 1–2 minutes, or until fragrant, being careful not to burn them. Pour in the olive oil and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the habanero oil from the heat and let cool. Skim off any burnt seeds and transfer to a small sealable jar.
  2. While the habanero oil is simmering, prepare the cauliflower purée. In a saucepan bring the chicken stock to the boil. Cook the cauliflower in the stock for 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain the cauliflower, reserving 125 ml of the stock. In a food processor or blender, blitz the cauliflower, reserved liquid and all of the remaining ingredients until smooth. Set aside.
  3. To prepare the sweetbreads, bring a small saucepan of water to the boil with the salt. Once boiling, reduce to a gentle simmer and add the sweetbreads. Cook for 15 minutes then drain and let cool. Wrap the sweetbreads in a clean tea towel and gently press out any excess liquid.
  4. Heat the canola oil on a barbecue hotplate, in a chargrill pan or in a frying pan over a medium–high heat. Grill the sweetbreads for about 8–10 minutes on one side, and season with a good pinch of salt. Flip and grill on the other side, seasoning with more salt, and cook for another 8–10 minutes, or until nice and crispy.
  5. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas. Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat. Warm the tortillas for about 10 seconds each, or until they become soft and pliable. Wrap them in a damp, clean tea towel to keep them soft until ready to serve.
  6. When the sweetbreads are ready, transfer them to a chopping board and slice them up. Give them a good squeeze of lemon and another pinch of salt.
  7. To assemble, smear some of the cauliflower purée on each tortilla and top with slices of the sweetbreads. Drizzle over a little habanero oil and serve.
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