"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tripe Roman Style

Have you ever wandered through the meat section of a supermarket and paused to look at something that looked like a white sponge with ridges? And wondered who on earth would eat such a thing? Further, HOW they would eat it?

That, my friends, was tripe. It's part of a cow's stomach (the lining from the second chamber, if you want to get precise), and who eats it is practically everybody in the world but folks from the good old U.S. of A. HOW they eat it is a matter of personal taste--there are whole cookbooks (and cook-through blogs) dedicated to these cast-off parts of animals--most notably to my mind Nose to Tail and Ryan's blog dedicated to it, Nose to Tail at Home.

In fact there's a whole nose-to-tail movement afoot in the culinary world, so if you have an adventuresome spirit, do a little homework and you'll be sure to find a competition or a local chef who's focusing on this trend.

This didn't stop me from being somewhat apprehensive about sallying forth to cook tripe for the first time ever. And it's not like you can just throw it in the oven, either--tripe needs to be prepped in a certain way, and it takes time.

To make Tripe Roman Style you first rinse the tripe (after trimming any fat), and soak it in a bowl of cold water for an hour. Then put it in a pot of cold water, bring it to a boil, and drain it. Put in more cold water, bring it to a boil, and then let it simmer for 4 hours.

I'd like to say that hanging around in your house doing mundane shores while your tripe is simmering away on the stove is a pleasant thing, like hanging out while bread bakes. Unfortunately, simmering tripe STINKS.

Yes, it's kind of a sour, dirty dishwater smell, with overtones of ammonia. BLARGH. And it has to simmer for FOUR HOURS.

The best thing to do is to break into your neighbor's house while he's at work--you know, the one who runs a leaf blower/lawn mower/weed wacker at 7am Saturday morning-- and boil it in HIS house (while you're leafing through back issues of National Geographic on your comfy couch) and then bring it home to finish off the dish.

While the tripe is boiling at your neighbor's house, start prepping the sauce. Saute onions, carrots, celery and garlic first.

Then add salt, pepper and white wine, cook some more, then add tomatoes, water and fresh chopped mint.

Get the tripe and consider it.

Nope. It's not gonna win any beauty contests.

Trim it up and put the strips in the sauce--then cook it some more (45 mins to an hour) until it's tender but still slightly chewy.

Now you've got something that can go in a bowl, topped with grated romano and more chopped fresh mint.

How was it? Well, predictably my husband LOVED it, but he grew up with a nana who made tripe all the time and I just think that anything he didn't have to chew for half an hour was an improvement.

I, who had only had tripe once before (tripe w/ cilantro at a Chinese restaurant in Cambridge) had a little bit of a texture issue, which is to say that I found it a little too soft, and also ever so slightly slimy, which was probably my fault because I didn't trim it correctly. I'm happy to report, however, that the taste was fabulous--for all of that stinky boiling smell while it was cooking, there was NONE of it in the final dish (which is probably the point of all that boiling).

Is it worthwhile, the smell? Listen, I'll leave it up to you, but if I read something in the police reports about a rash of mysterious daytime break-ins that seem to involve nothing but a stinky odor...it'll just be our little secret.


Georgia said...

From rhubarb dessert to tripe?! Anyway, tripe id quite popular in Jamaica. As is liver and kidney. The British influence, I think.

Anonymous said...

if you put in some carrots or potatoes when boiling the tripe you can minimize the unpleasent smell