11 March, 2008

The Tripe-Cooking Diary

In Which I Make Pickled Tripe.

I have a friend who dearly loves pickled tripe. Once upon a time, it was fairly common up here in New England. Pickled tripe was available (in jars) in almost every grocery store. Today, one can find fresh tripe - especially in towns with a sizable Hispanic population - but the pickled stuff is nearly impossible to find.

Adding to the mystery, pickled tripe is also mysteriously scarce on the internet. Although I was eventually able to find a recipe on several websites, it's the same recipe. And poring through my collection of vintage cookbooks was no help, either. Finding a recipe for pickling tripe was like trying to catch a unicorn.

So. Armed with my recipe and a pound-and-a-half of fresh honeycomb tripe from the local supermarket, I set off to make a jar of pickled tripe for my friend.

I unwrap the tripe in the sink and rinse it off. The tripe gives off a strangely nasty smell; it reminds me of formaldehyde and the chunks of organism we enjoyed dissecting in high school biology class. I checked the tripe over carefully, looking for random filthy bits, but was disapppointed (there weren't any.)

The tripe is naturally pocket-shaped, so I run the knife along the sides to separate it into two more-or-less flat portions, then cut each of the portions into pieces about three or four inches on a side. The pieces go into a dutch oven.

I cover the tripe with cold water and put it on the stove over a high flame to bring it quickly to a boil. While the water heats, I peel and chop the carrots and onions.

The tripe is at a full, rolling boil. Off to the sink to pour off the boiling water. A huge mushroom cloud of steam engulfs me in Tripe Stench. I fill the pot with fresh, cold water and bring it to the stove.

Back on the fire; I add the chopped vegetables and a bay leaf, sprinkle in a couple of teaspoons of salt and a small bunch of parsley. I leave the parsley whole to keep bits from hiding out in the honeycomb surface of the tripe. I thought about putting in some peppercorns for flavor as well, but I don't want them hiding in the honeycomb, either. So I just grind in a tablespoon or so.

I check on the tripe. It still smells. The kitchen is starting to smell, too.

The kitchen really smells.

The smell in the kitchen has pretty much faded away, and the unpleasant odor of the tripe has lessened quite a bit, even when the lid of the pot is lifted. It still isn't very appetizing, though. The tripe has been cooking for nearly two hours now and according to the recipe it should be just about ready. I stab a chunk with a fork and discover that it pierces the meat easily, but when I cut a chunk off and taste it, it seems far too chewy to be ready. Surprisingly, the tripe has very little flavor (I guess I was expecting a much stronger taste based on the agressive smell.)

Checking on the tripe again, I find it much more tender than it was before, and I figure it is about time to come out of the pot. I cut off a small piece and, although a little chewy, it seems ready. It also has almost no flavor. I lift the cooked chunks of tripe to a refrigerator container with a slotted spoon (and I include some of the vegetables in the broth for flavor's sake.)

A cup of the broth combined with a cup of good cider vinegar is sufficient to cover the cooked tripe in the refrigerator container. The tripe goes into the fridge for later consumption, and the dirty pots and kitchenware go into the sink for washup.

Pickled Tripe

2 pounds honeycomb tripe, cut into 3- to 4-inch squares
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup vinegar

Place tripe in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then drain. Rinse with cold water and cover with fresh water a second time. Add remaining ingredients except vinegar. Cover pan and simmer until tender, about 2 hours or longer.

Drain the cooked tripe, reserving 1 cup of broth. Combine the broth with the vinegar and pour over the tripe. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.


Jim Weller said...

You're lucky. The one and only time I tried cooking tripe it went from impossibly chewy to mucous-like mushy without an edible interim stage.

You might want to check out:

Anonymous said...

I'm from Pa. where pickled tripe cam still be bought. I'm trying to make my own, but the store bought never had vegetables in it!
Just tripe and a solidified gel.

Just Cook It said...

Oh god, what have I done?

Deb S. said...

Thanks for the recipe. Pickled tripe is almost impossible to find in upstate New York anymore. But last month, I purchased a package of Rumba uncooked tripe. I used your recipe. My husband, who has eaten tripe for many years, loves it. I will definitely cook some again. Thanks again!!!

Dave said...

Deb: Thanks for leaving me a message. I'm glad my recipe helped you.

Darbi said...

Has anyone found a place online to buy pickled tripe. We used to buy it in the meat case in VT. We would dip it in egg then cornmeal and fry it to a golden color. So delicious! In TX I can't get it so far but I've only been looking for 3 years.

Dave said...

I haven't seen it for sale in years, that's why I made my own. (P.S. It gets easier to do the more often you do it.)

Dave said...

I haven't seen it for sale in years, that's why I made my own. (P.S. It gets easier to do the more often you do it.)

James Grassie said...

I'm in the same boat! I'm originally from N.H. and my mom and i were the only two in the family that liked it, along with Liver and Onions. We used to eat it often but haven't seen it for over 30 years maybe and can only find the fresh stuff at a grocery store called "Publix." So i bought some today and i'm going to try making it "Pickled" myself! It sounds relatively easy, basically like a "Corned Beef" with pickling spices towards the last boil and add the Vinegar and store in the fridge! Re: Anonymous - P.A. Ours never had veggies in it either, just the tripe and gelatin.

Gail Fellows said...

As I understand it the Government shut down the only 3 places processing tripe for pickling for quite along time due to "unhealthy" processing. It is my understanding that now only one place in Maine is now processing tripe again. The pickled flavor is no where near as strong as it used to be and it now $11.99 a pound. we don't eat it often but we can still get it here in New Hampshire.

Darbi said...

When we used to get it, it seems like it was available everywhere almost in Central VT area. The thing is it would come pickled, we would eat it as what I thought was raw. My Mom used to slap my hand and say that's for supper and we have to cook it first!! She then would set up 2 dishes to "prep" the tripe for cooking, one with beaten eggs in it and the other with simply cornmeal and a little salt. Sometimes she would do it with eggs then a basic flour mixture of flour, salt and pepper. She would then cook it to the same doneness as you would cook any other food with a coating. In other words in my opinion, this pickled tripe had not been cooked before it was "pickled". If so why would we cook it again? Also I at sometime in the past I purchased tripe not knowing there was any type but the pickled kind we had as kids and what was still available when I was a young homemaker myself. When I bit into it I was so very surprised! No pickled flavor! Period! Hardly any flavor at all. I have inquired about it at several markets but no one knows where to get it and that could be due to Gail F.'s explanation. I am going to get some raw at the market this week and try brining it, then cooking it and see what I come up with. I will definitely let you know what happens! Happy New Year everyone!