I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sometimes Nasty Is Good

I love the nasty bits, which is why I am such a huge Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern fan. I absolutely love tripe, I grew up eating it Italian style in tomato sauce and over the years have had the pleasure of enjoying tripe in a variety of preparations. During the cold winter months I tend to eat more soup than usual, it just seems to warm me from the inside out which is quite welcoming when you are cold to the bone 90 percent of the time. It is the perfect food any time but even more so when the thermometer dips below freezing.There is a traditional Mexican soup that incorporates some of my favorite nasty bits; tripe and pigs feet. If you're lucky there are some restaurants that make their menudo with all assorted types of nasty bits which might gross most people out but for me it is pure taste bud heaven. Another traditional ingredient in this soup is hominy, which is dried corn that has been soaked in lye-water to remove the hull. The soaking causes it to swell and it is about three times the size of a normal corn kernel. Hominy comes in white or yellow depending on the corn they used, it has a strong unique flavor that is hard to describe but quite delicious and hearty.
This recipe I have used is very open to variation feel free to add more meats, chili's, herbs whatever you would like but it must have the tripe, pigs feet and hominy to keep it traditional....but there are no food police here so do with it what you will.
Menudo cooks long and slow in order to tenderize the tripe and soften the pig's feet, this slow cooking also intensifies all the flavors. Whenever possible make your menudo a day or two ahead of time for all the flavors to truly marry for the ultimate experience.

Easy To Make Menudo

3 lbs. honeycomb tripe
2 pig's feet
2 lg. cans hominy
1 can enchilada sauce
48 oz. can chicken broth
6 large cloves of fresh garlic, crushed
1/4 c. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper or cayenne (may also chop up a jalapeno or one of your favorite hot peppers for added spice).
Chopped white onion
Salt to taste
1 Lime, cut into wedges
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish as well as flavor
1 package of flour tortillas steam to soften or quickly run them over a hot flame. Tortillas are traditionally served with this soup instead of the usual crackers or bread used with other types of soup.

Wash and cut honeycomb tripe into bite size pieces. Put in large soup kettle along with pig's feet. Cover with water and boil with garlic for about 30 minutes. Add all other ingredients except onion. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer for about 3 to 4 hours. When cooked, serve in soup bowls, spooning fresh, chopped onion on top and a squeeze of fresh lime and a generous sprinkling of cilantro.

This soup freezes very well so make extra to have on hand.


Katy said...

Grins. I'd have to think about this one...

Julie said...

I know Katy, the sad part is if people could just get past what it is and just taste it, it truly is delicious.
I have had so many people start eating stuff like this and tell me how much they love it...until I tell them what it is and then they don't seem to like it anymore.

Wanda said...

As you say Julie, it is just the perception of what the food is that makes people squirm. My mother cooked tripe and onions when we were growing up. Her cooking was great but I have had tripe where it is so chewy you can't enjoy it. We use pigs heads and feet in our homemade brawn, yum.

Keep up the good work of educating people in eating the not so endearing parts of the animal.


Rochelle R. said...

Menudo is available just about everywhere around here (San Diego, Ca) but I admit I have never convinced myself to try it. When I see tripe at the grocery store I just don't like how it looks, oh well maybe some day.

Julie said...

If you could only get past how it looks Rochelle, you'd be amazed at just how delicious it is.
How many of the foods that we habitually eat actually do look attractive in their raw state?
It all comes down to habit and what is familiar...Tripe is familiar to me, I grew up with it. I grew up with a family who had adventurous tastes, so we tried just about everything and there were very few things that we did not enjoy.Don't cheat yourself out of some great taste experiences after all if it ends up you don't like it, you never have to have it again but if you do, you have the pleasure of sending your taste buds on a flavor rich adventure!

Julie said...

Thank you Wanda, it saddens me that people cheat themselves out of some truly delicious foods based on how they look, sound or where they originate from.