Thursday, December 19, 2013

Menudo (Red Chile Tripe Soup)

Menudo (Red Chile Tripe Soup) via www.girlichef.com
Menudo is touted for it's ability to help cure a hangover.  This is due to its high Vitamin B content.  I'm guessing that the chile-laden broth probably aids in helping you sweat it out a bit, too. Whether that's a Mexican urban legend or not, I don't know.  But ask any Mexican you know how to cure a hangover, and menudo will be the answer.  Alongside a big glass of water for hydration, it definitely couldn't hurt. Or you could choose to go hair of the dog.  You know, if that's more your style.

But that's not the only reason that people love menudo.  It's actually a pretty common breakfast food in Mexico, though in some parts of the country, it goes by the name mondongo.  B vitamins are good for every body (not just the ones nursing a hangover).  You'd know it's true if you ever saw menudo on day two, after it's taken out of the fridge.  It's like a bowl full of meat jelly studded with tripe and bones.  Mmmm...

Now, I'm going to be completely honest with you and tell you that I only make menudo one time a year.  Why?  Because I absolutely cannot stand the smell of tripe cooking.  Fair warning: it's not a lovely smell.  And yes, I clean it well in several changes of water, plus scrub it with salt and lime, and rinse again.  That's just the nature of tripe.  It's smelly.  But if you can get past the initial simmering, once you've added in the feet, bones, and other flavorings, it gets better.

Menudo (Red Chile Tripe Soup) via www.girlichef.com
And still in the spirit of truth - I don't even like it that much.  I try, but I just don't.  I do it for my husband.  He loves it.  He was born and raised in Mexico.  You should see him and his dad go to town on it.  Many people remove the bones and cartilage and fat once it's done cooking - but at their request, I do not.  Those are their favorite parts.

Hey, if they're happy, I'm happy.  Who knows, maybe one day I'll grow to love it.  Of course, after 12 years of trying to already, maybe I won't.  But that won't stop me from making my yearly pot of menudo for my loved ones to enjoy.

Menudo (Red Chile Tripe Soup)
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Menudo (Red Chile Tripe Soup) via www.girlichef.com
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3-1/2 hours
Keywords: simmer soup/stew nut-free soy-free sugar-free dairy-free beef chiles pork Mexican

Ingredients (serves 6)
    for the tripe:
    • 2-1/4 pounds beef tripe
    • 1 tablespoon sea salt
    • juice of 1 large lime
    remaining soup ingredients:
    • 1 large pig's foot, split lengthwise
    • 1 small cow's foot, split lengthwise or cut into 1" cross sections
    • 1-1/2 pounds marrow bones, cut into 1" cross sections
    • 6 ounces chopped white onion
    • 6 fat garlic cloves, minced - divided
    • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
    • 1-1/2 ounces dried Cascabel chiles, stemmed, seeded, and deveined
    • 1/3 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
    • 2-3 teaspoons sea salt
    • 1 (29 ounce) can Hominy, drained - optional
    to serve:
    • 2-3 small limes, quartered
    • 1 small white onion, chopped smallish
    • handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
    • dried Mexican oregano
    • ground chile piquín or cayenne
    • hot corn tortillas
    Instructions
    preparing the tripe:
    Place tripe in an extra-large bowl (or clean sink basin) and rinse thoroughly in 3 changes of warm water. Add the salt and lime juice and rub them in using a scrubbing motion; let sit 30 minutes. Wash once again in several changes of warm water.

    Cut the tripe into small pieces, ~2" x 1/2". Put them into a large stockpot, cover with 3 quarts of water cold water and bring to a boil; turn heat down and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Drain into a colander set in the sink. Wipe any foam (okay, scum) from the inside of the pot, then return the tripe to it.
    meats for Menudo (Red Chile Tripe Soup) via www.girlichef.com
    making the soup:
    Add the pig and cow feet, the marrow bones, and 3 quarts of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Skim off the scummy foam that rises during the first few minutes of cooking (this is the impurities coming off of the meat and bones). Once the scum is gone, add half of the garlic, chopped onion, and the oregano to the pot; partially cover and simmer gently until tripe is tender, ~3 hours.

    in the meantime:
    Rip the chiles into halves or thirds and toast them on a hot comal or cast-iron skillet, several at a time, pressing down with a spatula and flipping. The skin should start to lighten in color and blister a bit, this should only take a few seconds per side. Transfer to a small bowl. Once all of the chiles have been toasted and added to the bowl, cover them with boiling water and set a small plate or bowl on top to weight them down and keep them submerged; let soak for 30 minutes.

    Drain the chiles and place them into a blender jar along with the other half of the garlic, the cumin, and 1/2 cup of the cooking broth (just scoop it out with a measuring cup while it's cooking); blend until you have a smooth puree. Set a medium-mesh strainer over a small bowl and strain the chile mixture through it, pressing with a rubber spatula to release as much as you can, leaving the skins behind. If there still seems like a lot of chile mixture inside of the blender, I like to add a bit more of the broth and whiz it around to "release" what is left. Pour through the strainer into bowl. Set aside until needed.

    finishing the Menudo:
    After the 3 hours is up, you can scoop out the marrow bones and the feet, if you wish. Pull any meat from the pig's foot and add back to the pot. I leave everything in, because that's the way my husband and mi suegro (father in law) like to eat it. To them, it's not the same if they can't eat the fat, gnaw on the bones and cartilage, and scoop any remaining marrow from the bones. This is entirely up to you.

    Once you've removed anything you wanted to, scrape all of the reserved chile puree into the pot. Add salt and hominy, if using. Return to heat and bring back to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

    to serve:
    Place all of the condiments and the hot tortillas on the table. Ladle the steaming soup into bowls and have everybody add what they like. Eat the hot tortillas with the Menudo.

    -inspired by and adapted from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless
    Menudo (Red Chile Tripe Soup) via www.girlichef.com
    Not that I drink enough to get hangovers anymore, but if you don't like Menudo, this 10-Minute Shrimp and Tortilla Soup will kick the hangover right out of you, as well. Or at least make you forget about it - due to it's insane heat. I love it!

    I am sending this bowl of Menudo over to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for this week's edition of Souper Sundays.  And since it's Potluck week at IHCC, I'll be sharing this there, as well.

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