Menudo is one of those dishes you either love or hate. Just like cilantro. For those of you that don't know what the key ingredient in this dish is, prepare yourself...it's tripe. What is tripe you ask? Well, by definition it is the lining of the stomach of a cow, but sometimes of a pig or sheep.
Menudo is an incredibly popular stew here in the southwest, especially if you grew up with it. Having menudo on the weekends, especially after a pachanga (party) was a given. Coming back after partying in Juarez in the days when you could go to Juarez without fearing for your life (1500 murders in Juarez , drug cartel wars, and the year isn't over yet!!!), it was always customary to stop at the Good Luck Cafe on Alameda street to have a huge bowl of menudo, some bolillos, and several cups of coffee. No-fail way to keep from getting a hangover or get rid of one.
Anyway, since I was reminiscing about my past, I couldn't leave out one of the staples that was on our table every Sunday. My brother Mando makes the best menudo anyone has ever tasted. Bob and Lily won't eat it, but my son Michael will. It's an acquired taste, unless you grew up on it. I hope you try it and enjoy it. It's made with tripe, posole (hominy), red chile and some people even cook it with pigs feet! Gives it an incredible flavor. Aprovecho!
3 ½ pounds beef tripe, rinsed well and cut into 1 inch squares
3 to 3 ½ pounds beef shanks or pigs feet
10 cups water
2 medium sized onions, chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Chile Purée (recipe follows)
3 large cans (29 ounces each) white or yellow hominy, drained
Garnishes (see suggestions below)
In an 8 to 10 quart pan, combine tripe, beef shanks, water, onions, garlic, and cumin. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until tripe is very tender ( 6 to 7 hours ). Meanwhile, prepare Chile Purée, set aside.
Skim and discard fat from liquid. Lift beef shanks from pan; discard bones and fat. Cut meat into chunks and return to pan with purée and hominy. Season to taste with salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. If made ahead, cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 days; reheat before serving.
Pour soup into bowls; offer garnishes to add to individual servings. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Discard stems and seeds from 9 large dried red chiles (either New Mexico or California) in a bowl with 3-¼ cups warm water. Let stand until softened (20 to 30 minutes). Discard all but 1-¼ cups of the liquid. In a blender or food processor, purée chiles with liquid until smooth, scraping sides of container once or twice.
Choose from the following, arranged in separate bowls: 3 limes or lemons, cut into wedges; ½ cup fresh oregano leaves; 1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs; 1 medium sized onion, chopped; and ¼ cup crushed dried hot red chiles or 5 fresh Serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced.
If you don't care for the tripe in Menudo, try this recipe with the pozole and pork.
2 packages (¾ pound each) dried pozole or fresh frozen pozole
10 ounces pork shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups Green Chile Sauce, recipe follows
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 white onion, finely diced
4 dried red New Mexico chiles, rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chile powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons salt
6 quarts water
If using fresh-frozen pozole, rinse it well under cold running water. Place all of the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the kernels have opened up and are tender, 2 ½ to 5 hours, depending upon the type of pozole you are using.Add water as needed to keep the pozole just covered with liquid. When the stew is ready, the consistency should be that of a thick soup.Adjust to taste with more garlic, dried red chile, and salt before serving. Serves 8.
Green Chile Sauce
1 can ( 8 ounce ) tomato sauce
1 can ( 4 ounce ) chopped green chile
½ medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Dash of salt
Pinch of oregano
Mix all ingredients and store in refrigerator. Good also with tacos, tostadas, huevos rancheros, and as a dip. For extra spiciness, add one minced jalapeño. Makes 1 cup.