Question about tripe and its odor
I recently stumbled upon tripe at my local grocery store. I bought a bunch of it and put it in the freezer. The other day, I made some menudo. I noticed that the tripe smelled like barn (like wet hay and dirt). I thought boiling it would clean out some of that smell, but it didn't. The soup tasted like a barn. I've had tripe elsewhere that didn't have much of a smell at all, so, I'm wondering what the problem was.
The tripe looked very clean and I rinsed it off thoroughly. Is there any other cleaning that needs to be done to take care of the odor? Had the tripe gone bad? Any ideas?
here in the Philippines, we wash scrub the tripe with rock salt then rinse in cold running water before cooking.
The first time I had menudo it was at whichever restaurant Rick Bayless had first started in Chicago. When the bowl arrived it seemed as though we had just moved next to the Chicago stockyards, and someone had opened a window! At which point I said to myself, "This is innards I'm about to eat. I like innards, even though the only tripe I've had so far was in Campbell's Pepper Pot soup. I guess this is the grownup version." And I ate it, and it was awfully good. Since then, I've had a lot of tripe from a lot of cuisines, and chitterlings besides, and sometimes it stank and sometimes it didn't. Just like cheese, or people, or most of what life offers.
The tripe that I buy is generally really clean. I don't know what they do to it but it's bright white and nearly odorless. I just get the smell of tripe (in a good way). I don't smell dirt or anything foul.
One of the errors of my youth was having a long-term relationship with someone from rural Mexico (The area outside of Guadalajara, on the way toward Puerto Vallarta, maybe 45mins outside of Guadalajara), for purposes of the regionality of this post. In one of my many efforts to make things work, I attempted making menudo under his micromanagerial supervision.
Step One: ALWAYS buy from a butcher offering all _3_ parts of the tripe, Honeycomb + "The Book" (El Libro en espanol) & "The Callus" (El Cayo -or- El Callo en espanol). This is Imperative, apparently.
Step Two: (And this is from experience), no matter HOW MUCH you pay (And it's never THAT much when it's tripe), or, HOW CLEAN it _appears_ (but is _NOT_), tripe WILL get CLEANER STILL! This is FOR SURE.
Step Three: See how much cleaner it will get by rinsing it under running water over a colander to catch it when it slips from your grasp (Or, try wearing microfiber gloves to retain your grasp on the slippery stuff!) It's now somewhat cleaner & still COLD & RAW.
Step Four: See how much cleaner it will get by SCRAPING IT with the DULL SIDE of your chef's knife - FORCEFULLY!
METHOD: At that kitchen I had a eat-at bar at counter height, (LOVED IT!), so, I'd cover it completely in kitchen towels (Costco cheap bag of whites), then, lay NEWSPAPERS over those, then set the biggest cutting board on the newspapers, wrapped in plenty of plastic wrap (To keep the awful offal odor from touch the surface I cut bread & cheese upon!), then, I'd add a DOUBLE THICKNESS of the white towels over the plastic-wrapped cutting board + have a tall stack ready for instant replacement + have a small trashcan by my feet for chucking the messy ones as I went through the following process:
Leaving the tripe in the collandar, over a stainless pot, select ONE piece (ANY PIECE) and spread it tidily on the cutting board. Firmly grasp the end closest to YOU with your non-dominate hand. With your dominate hand, orientate your chef's knife blade so the honed edge is facing UP. Beginning as close to your grasping fingers as possible, start scraping in strokes to the end of the tripe. Be sure to cover from one side all the way to the other before placing into the "processed pot" (Which I forgot to mention earlier) - The Processed Pot sits to one side of the cutting board, waiting for the tripe you've scraped.
NOTE: The greyish STRONG-SMELLING undeniably OFFAL-smelling "stuff" (ALL Stomachs have this "mucosal lining" - it's a break in it that allows H. Pylori bacterium to contact the HUMAN stomach lining and cause "ulcers") -
When the area is untidy: Refresh it
Continue until each piece has been "processed" / "scraped".
Take the processed tripe to the sink and re-rinse as meticulously as before.
I recall these steps needing to be repeated 6 times, minimally.
Your results may vary - I insisted upon removing every trace of the mucus possible before continuing on with the menudo preparations. MANY cooks just toss it into a pot with ZERO cleaning (((( shudders abound! ))))
Once your comfort level has been attained as to cleanliness, cover the tripe with cool clear water and set it to boil with NO SALT and some 3-5 bay leaves.
Foam Will Rise.
Rather than skim it, when the water's top resembles a toxic river, pour it all into the colandar (A fine opportunity to first pour some baking soda, salt etc down for a drain maint. while you're at it!).
Give it a cursory rinse and flip about, then, refill the pot and keep repeating this process until the tripe is notably less "flotsam-producing".
After the final pour-off and re-fill, let it come to a boil, then, lower to a gentle simmer with fresh bay leaves, etc - I've been known to let it go all night "low & slow" with raved upon reviews.
While that happens, A) Sleep, or, B) make your preparations for adding to the pot & garnishing the bowls according to your own version of "Menudo".
P.S. If adding "patas" to the menudo the procedure is similar as to pouring off and refilling and meticulous pre-cleaning, but not nearly as "dirty" a task ~ Don't be disuaded! The "gelatinous" results are _SO_ VERY "worth it"!
A Final Note:
The FROZEN UNCOOKED tripe seems to freeze A-OK, but the cooked product (Menudo) seems to lose A LOT by freezing it. Menudo: To be consumed same-day as prepared in this kitchen!
P.S. ~ I thought he was a compulsive micomanager, but no; EVERYONE I've ever met from his town prepares their tripe for menudo in this fashion.
I've made countless batches and yet to taste it even once.
TheConqueress, I bow down before you for so much work so many times. If you are still out there after all this time and ever have to make menudo again,... Try rinsing the tripe well in cold water, put a damp kitche towel in the bottom of your sink to keep the cutting board you are laying there from sliding, Mix 1 Cup white vinegar with 1 Cup of Kosher salt in a small bowl, spread the tripe flat a piece at a time and using the salt mix, dip a stiff brush in it and scrub hell out of the tripe on both sides, rinse well in cold water, repeat twice more with all the smelly stuff, cut it all into 1 inch pieces and cover with clean cold water, refridgerate, covered, at least overnight. Change the water once or twice when you think of it. Proceed with the recipe. I woud not use anything but Honeycomb Tripe for my menudo. It is the most tender and mild tasting of all, and the salt mix acts as an abrasive to get into all the nooks and crannys scrubbing out all the mucus (((sympathy shudders))) Most tripe and "Patas" sold in the U.S.are reasonably clean and the "Patas" have been scraped, cleaned and peeled to a degree that will you allow them to be boiled as they are. The method described above for the tripe is for U.S. butchered meats and should not be a stinky job. Easy clean-up too.
Hope this helps,