Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tripe with chickpeas (menudo gaditano)

Mention tripe in the UK and you're bound to get a chorus of disparaging remarks and expressions of outright disgust. The conventional explanation is that it came to be seen as poverty food during World War Two, but I don't think that is the whole story. There is obviously something a bit deeper behind the move away from offal in the British diet, and the same trend can be seen in Spain, although not to the same extreme.

I suspect a number of factors have come together to push tripe and other offal off our menus.
  • Increased wealth means that high prestige meats (steak, lean mince, chicken etc.) are now widely accessible and relatively cheap, so there is less incentive to eat the cheaper cuts.
  • This, in turn, means that these high prestige cuts become the norm, and set the standard of what meat should be like.
  • On top of this, increasing health consciousness puts people off consuming fattier meats or any meat (such as tripe) which looks as if it might be fatty.
  • More generally, there has been a move away from gelatinous textures, to the point where just about the only gelatinous foods eaten with any regularity in the UK are jelly itself and creme caramel. Meat can be tender, crisp or firm, but never gelatinous.
In Spain, tripe is far more widely eaten in the UK, but it is definitely still a little old-fashioned, the kind of thing generally eaten by people in their 50s upwards and a few younger men who think that 'nose to tail' eating is cool. (I guess that includes me.) I often eat it in bars, but have never made it at home, partly because nobody else in my family eats it.

However, I decided it was time to break it out of the ghetto, hoping that even if the tripe itself went uneaten, the chickpeas would be a success. I also took the liberty of adding some green beans and a red pepper to make it a bit more interesting, although this is definitely not part of the traditional recipe.

olive oil
500g mixed tripe (plus a bit of trotter)
500g dry chickpeas (soaked overnight)
plain flour
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
3 bay leaves
1 red pepper
chicken stock
3 tsps salt
3 tsps paprika
1 tsp tabasco
white wine
green beans

  1. Wash the tripe in cold water (it should already have been prepared by the butcher), and cut into small pieces.
  2. Peel and chop the onion, peel and crush the garlic, cut the red pepper into small chunks, and top and tail the beans and cut them into pieces.
  3. Put plenty of olive oil in a pressure cooker, add the onion and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes
  4. Meanwhile, dust the tripe in flour, then add it to the onion and garlic and fry for a few minutes until browned.
  5. Add the chickpeas, red pepper, paprika, a splash of white wine, salt, tabasco and enough chicken stock to barely cover the ingredients, bring to a boil, put the lid on the pressure cooker, bring up to full pressure, reduce heat to minimum and cook for 50 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat, allow pot to cool fully, open, add the green beans, cover the pot, bring back to pressure and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  7. Like all stews, this benefits from sitting for a day.
When I made this, I more or less followed a traditional recipe. However, the result was a little watery and bland for my liking. It was partly my fault, for not using hot enough paprika, so I rectified it with some tabasco. I also made a little roux with some olive oil and flour and gradually ladled some of the liquid into it to create a thicker, silkier sauce - obviously the sensible point at which to add the flour is at the beginning.

A load of tripe (menudo menudo)
When I was buying my tripe, I made the mistake of being too vague with my ordering. I asked for a little bit of tripe (un poquito de menudo) but what I got was 2 kg of assorted cow's stomach, with a trotter thrown in for good measure. Next time I shall be more specific, but in the meantime I have a couple of bags of tripe waiting in my freezer.


elle pee said...

Yum! Also love the new background photo.



Tim in the Kitchen said...

Thanks for that. I've also posted this on Facebook where it received a universal thumbs down!

Kerri said...

I found your blog while looking for an explanation of "carrillada" for my blog. I'm sorry you didn't get much support for your tripe, but I just got back from a trip to Madrid where my cousin went just crazy for it! Feel free to check out my posts about the food we had in Madrid (with a nice tripe picture, too) at I look forward to exploring your site more!

Tim in the Kitchen said...

Hi Kerri,

Thanks for that. Funny to see you live in Calabria. I spent a year there back in 1988, and revisited a couple of years ago. You can read about it here:

elle pee said...

Yes Tim, there is hope for your tripe! Tell your facebook "friends" not to knock it 'til they try it! : )