Thursday, August 25, 2011

Trippa alla Romana – Do I Expect You to Swallow This Tripe? Yes!

On a scale of 0-to-Chris Cosentino, when it comes to cooking and enjoying offal, I come in at around a 5. I’ve never been big on kidneys, brain, and heart, but I do enjoy fried sweetbreads, grilled tongue, and this Roman-style tripe.

Let’s just get this out of the way now – tripe is the lining of a cow’s stomach. Not sure which one, as I remember from grade school that cows have a bunch of them. You could always Google for more info, but really, what else do you need to know?

This recipe is inspired by three different sources; Mario Batali, where I learned the trick of adding vanilla to the cooking liquid; my grandfather, who I believe made me the first tripe I ever ate; and a great neighborhood restaurant, Locanda, where I borrowed the idea of adding garbanzo beans.

I’m not sure how “tripe” ended up being used as an expression for “something poor, worthless, or offensive,” but culinarily-speaking, it’s none of those things. When prepared in this method, it’s has a pleasantly mild, but distinct flavor.

The spicy, garlicky tomato sauce is spiked with lots of fresh mint, which has a magical affinity for the tripe. When it comes to great sauces for dipping crusty Italian bread, it doesn’t get any better than this. If you like tripe, you’ll definitely love this version.

If you don’t like tripe, or have never tried it, I implore you to chef-up, and give it a try. Hey, no guts, no glory. Enjoy!

For the tripe:
2 1/2 pounds honeycomb tripe
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf
5 quarts cold water
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 oz pancetta
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups marinara sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups tripe cooking liquid, more as needed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
1 bunch mint leaves, finely chopped

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