Maybe I'm thinking about tripe in the aftermath of making haggis for Robert Burns birthday.
Maybe I long to be back in Rome where we had a hearty and delicious tripe dish last year. It was called, oddly enough, Trippa alla Romana.
For whatever reason, I have stomach on my mind.
Roman tripe...Simple tomato sauce, honeycomb tripe and grated cheese. Back in Rome I loved it so much I ate half of it before I remembered to snap a photo.
It was magnificent.
Yes, tripe is cow stomach. Reticulum tripe, aka honeycomb tripe, is the second of the ruminants four stomachs. Although all stomachs are eaten, the most popular are honeycomb tripe and book tripe, which is the third or omasum stomach. Book tripe is used in my fav dim sum dish. It's lighter than honeycomb tripe, with filaments like bits of sea grass waving from the sand.
But last night was the first time I cooked with it.
I used one of Mario Batali's* recipes that mimicked the dish I had in Rome. It was so simple. So delicious too.
Rinse the tripe inside and out. It may smell a little like a wet dog, just a slight funk, but that's OK. I used less than two pounds of tripe and two quarts of sauce to feed three with leftovers.
Simmer the tripe for 1.5 hours in water to cover (plus two inches), a cup of white vinegar and a Tablespoon of vanilla. (I don't know what the vanilla does but the resulting tripe smells not at all gamey)
The recipe uses a simple home made tomato sauce of tomatoes, onion, grated carrot, a little red wine and garlic. Batali doesn't even add wine in his recipe (but I did). No sugar either because the carrot is the sweetener.
Cooked and cut in 1/4 inch strips, honeycomb tripe is sauteed with onion and simmered in the sauce for 20-30 minutes. The dish is finished with grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses. As always, season with salt to taste.
The photo shows the tripe before being sauteed with onion simmered with sauce.
I don't know why tripe is so maligned. I suppose it's lumped in with other offal as 'weird,' 'stinky,' or every cook's favorite, 'gross.'
Maybe because it was the food of poor folk.
But tripe is relatively inexpensive, easy to work with, and takes on the flavor of whatever it's cooked with.
It doesn't have a bloody, earthy, bold taste like liver. What it lacks in flavor, it adds in texture, adding low-fat, zero carb protein to a dish.
So... make menudo. Make Roman tripe, make dim sum tripe. But make tripe.
Love big and eat well.
* I have always loved Mario Batali's recipes. Never had one that didn't do exactly what it was supposed to do.