Contains: Offal, nightshades. Is: Gluten-free, wheat free, Whole30, paleo.
Halloween is on the horizon, as is the Mexican Day of the Dead – so, why not make Menudo?
Of course if you add optional hominy or corn, this will no longer be Whole30 or paleo – but I really felt no inspiration to add that particular grain. In Mexican households it seems this goes either way – some people will use this, some won’t.
I used honeycomb tripe, but use what you can find, preferably from cattle. You either have to find a source that provides very clean tripe, or do the last stages of cleaning, yourself. Tripe is, by the way, the stomach lining from one or more of the stomachs found in a cow. So I don’t expect most of my readership to be interested in making this dish… It is a recipe that has become popular in Mexico, and I hope to be true to that cuisine while making this dish.
We grew up with tripe, which Dad would make Italian style, with a marinara sauce. Down on Arthur Avenue, an Italian section of New York City, I once ordered that dish as well. Dad’s efforts were not that far off. I will try making Italian tripe marinara sometime in the future, although I don’t have his actual recipe to hand. (I think he didn’t have one to hand, either – he used recipes as jumping off points to riff on his own creations, by and large.)
This Mexican version of menudo soup will be lightly spicy. You are also free to elevate the heat of the peppers, too, should this variant be too mild for you.
I will admit here and now this meal I am making is the first time I’ve ever tasted Mexican menudo soup. You just can’t find it in restaurants up this way. But… it must be made somewhere in relatively-local homes, as I have found tripe a few times in my usual Pittsfield MA supermarket.
I am given to understand that Menudo soup is a good hangover cure. It is also a soup to be served on New Years Day (re-read the previous sentence…)
It is not a quick dish – tripe is not innately tender.
If your tripe “smells” – soak it in advance in salted acidulated water for a a couple hours or more. Rinse thoroughly afterwards. Mine is a bit earthy, but not in an unpleasant way, so I skipped doing this.
The recipe as I have interpreted it:
Prep Time: 20 minutes.
Cook Time: 4-5 hours.
Rest Time: Not needed,
Menudo Soup (A Mexican Tripe Dish)
- 1 pound of collagen bones. I used bison but you’ll probably have beef.
- 1 pound of tripe. Rinse and clean. You can soak in acidulated water with a little salt to remove any unwanted odors, if this tripe has this. Cut into strips, about 1-2 inches long, and half an inch wide, removing any fat.
- 1 cup of broth – I had homemade chicken broth to hand, but beef is more traditional.
- Salt as described below.
- 4 dried Guajillo peppers. Remove stems and shake out seeds to discard.
- 4 dried Arbol peppers. Remove stems and shake out seeds to discard.
- 1 large onion, chunked.
- 1 pepper: choose Cubano, Poblano, or bell. (I went with Cubano this time.) De-seed and chop.
- 1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
- ½ lime (or so).
- 1 goodly batch of cilantro / coriander leaves. Or, if you can’t tolerate cilantro, substitute parsley or fresh oregano.
In about 7 or 8 cups of water, add the bones, and bring the bone/water setup to a boil. Reduce to a steady simmer, and with a spoon, scoop out any scum floating to the top. Discard this. You may need to pay attention for around 15 minutes to get it all. Continue simmering this for a total of half an hour.
Meanwhile, take the Guajillo and Arbol peppers, and add them to another pot. Bring this to a boil, then turn the heating element/hob off. Let the peppers sit there for at least a half hour, or up to two hours.
When the half hour of simmering for the collagen bones is up, add the prepared tripe slices, and the chicken (or other) stock to the bones.
Add a teaspoon of coarse salt to this pot – note, when I make my stocks, I don’t add salt at that stage. I add it later, when I am making a dish from this. If you use a packaged stock (beef or chicken) please choose low sodium. You will get the chance to adjust salt later on in this recipe.
Simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours, turning the bones and checking water levels periodically. (If you need to add more water, do so – you shouldn’t, yet.)
Before this last stage is completed, take the steeped Guajillo and Arbol peppers, remove from their liquid, and chop coarsely. Put them in a suitable vessel for using an immersion blender, along with about a cup of their steeping liquid. Now, blend. You can also use a mini food processor if desired.
Some people will strain this and reserve just the strained material – this is optional, and I opt not to do this. At any rate, strained or not, add the blended pepper and liquid to the pot with the tripe. Also, add the cumin.
Allow to simmer for another 2 hours, this time covered. At the 1 hour mark of this, add the onion and the Cubano (or other fresh pepper). During this time evaluate for the addition of any more water. (You may optionally add in a half can of hominy here if desired.)
At the two hour mark, remove meat and soft cartilage from the bones, as well as any marrow, adding them back into the soup, and discarding the bone proper. Then, squeeze in half of the lime. Stir for a minute or two. Taste and add more salt as indicated.
Serve, topping with cilantro (as long as it doesn’t taste like soap to you.) Sub with parsley or oregano if you need to. Provide lime wedges for people dining to use as they wish.