Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Italian style tripe

Finally I got round to cooking a tripe. Not that I have a childhood trauma or something, because in my closest family nobody ate tripe as far as I remember, however this is not very popular ingredient nowadays, especially in the United Kingdom. During the Industrial Revolution, especially in northern part of England tripe was a very popular snack. Poorest part of the society when coming back from shift in factories use to grab piece of tripe drizzled with some vinegar – it was cheap and fast food. There were special places where the whole process of cleaning and cooking quite smelly tripe took place. This is very interesting period in history of British food. On one hand there were poor working class people eating cheap cuts but on the other the Industrial Revolution changed the availability, distribution and production of food like never before. This period also brought the first food adulteration due to a rapidly increasing population. The food industry had a difficult time dealing with shortages of materials and in an effort to keep costs down, bulked up food items with bad quality fillers. One of the products that suffered the most was tea. On the other hand due to the expansion of railway system food was transported to the many places that could not get before. Faster transport meant better quality food available to more people... What I was writing about? Oh yes, the tripe.

Nowadays it is ingredient quite difficult to find and the whole process of bleaching and blanching the tripe is quite long and it makes tripe nearly as expensive as stewing beef. This could be a reason that people don’t buy it anymore and even good butchers don’t have it in stock all the time. I have ordered some and after searching the internet I found few Italian recipes. I didn’t want to cook tripe in traditional Polish way – spicy in broth with lots of marjoram, because my partner can’t stand them this way – I think he was forced to eat them when he was a child. So we both ate Italian style tripe and it was tasty, however it isn’t something that I would cook on a regular basis. I believe I haven’t found my perfect tripe recipe yet.  

This recipe is a compilation of few that I came across and to be quite honest the photos revealed something more stew like – thick, with little sauce. Mine tripe was more like a soup, thick and filling though. Marjoram is my addition, because I think it goes very well with tripe. As far as I am concerned this recipe is quite close to the traditional Trippa alla Romana, because of the use of wine and pecorino cheese. 

Serves 4-6

750g tripe, bleached, pre cooked and cut into strips  
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled
2 carrots, peeled  
2 celery sticks  
3 garlic cloves, peeled  
150ml dry white wine  
200ml vegetable stock  
2 x 400ml tins of chopped tomatoes  
2 peperoncino peppers  
2 bay leaves  
few tsp dried marjoram
freshly ground black pepper  
handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped if large leaves
handful of freshly grated pecorino cheese (parmesan will do if you don’t have pecorino)

Chop the celery, carrots and onions very finely. I used food processor.

Heat a large pan and add olive oil. Next add the chopped vegetables and fry for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Next add the wine and cook until nearly all of it evaporates. Add the tripe, whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, whole peperoncino peppers, tomatoes with the whole juice, stock to the pan. Season with salt and pepper (lots of pepper!), add marjoram, stir, cover, turn the heat down and simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Serve with some grated pecorino and fresh mint on the top.

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