tips for making this mexican soup

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A Sonora soup exists for every craving and every occasion. Green vegetable soups sprinkled with chickpeas, corn and cheese fortified with the addition of milk, heavy cream of carrots, earthy bean stews, red pozoles topped with mounds of lettuce and radish and “poor “Grain-based pozoles and just enough beef chunks and bones to add an unmistakable extra.

One Mexican soup in particular is particularly revered, touted as a magical hangover cure and offered for many holidays and family gatherings. It’s a soup that I’ve always had trouble swallowing or, more precisely, smelling. Yes, I’m talking about the dreaded stinky bowl of menudo.

There, I said it. It stinks.

Menudo is often requested with ‘puros granitos’ or ‘sin pancitas por favor’. Grain only, referring to nixtamal, or no tripe, like boiling the cow’s stomach, but omitting it from the bowl will somehow eliminate the stomach stench.

This will not be the case.

Sonoran gastronomy is almost magical in its ability to extract complexity from any ingredient through simple cooking methods that create something greater than the sum of its parts, but magic draws a hard line among Gut.

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What is the menudo?

For a more enjoyable menudo-making experience, clean and cook the tripe before adding it to the pot.

Menudo, like many rural dishes found around the world, was created as a way to use the parts of the cow that may not have been considered the most delicious and give it a purpose. Organ meat, like tripe, is nutritionally dense, rich in minerals and protein, and deserves better than to waste.

Good menudo is a clear broth with just a hint of gelatinous thickness, which clings pleasantly to the palate. Depending on the amount of tripe added to the soup, a slight mineral quality emerges from the broth, but it’s largely the earthy sweetness of the corn that should dominate.

A better menudo starts with well-prepared tripe

The problem is not with the ingredient itself – the honeycomb tripe – but with the technique used to make it and the cut used for the menudo.

Let’s start with the first problem. Menudo combines a rather absorbent ingredient – ​​dry corn reconstituted in an alkaline solution or nixtamal – with a potentially foul-smelling, still chewy organ meat cut into large squares. These two should simmer together until the tripe is tender. The result is a soup that not only fails to sweeten the chew of the tripe, but also infuses the broth and nixtamal with the natural and expected stench of a cow’s digestive system.

Attractive, isn’t it? Yet, when cooked correctly, tripe is not only perfectly edible, it can be deeply satisfying and nutritionally rich.

Allow me here to offer my most sincere apologies for the sacrilege I am committing, both culturally and gastronomically, but I beg you to throw away the traditional method of cooking tripe in soup for something better.

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To prove that the problem is not with the tripe itself, but with the cooking method, just look at the thin strips of twisted tripe with the noodles in a bowl of beef phở. They can be eaten without endless chewing or foul odor. Also consider the Roman classic, trippa alla Romana, which features thin slices of deliciously tender tripe bathed in a rich tomato sauce served under a mound of parmigiano reggiano with a slice of toasted bread to soak up the sauce. No complaints.

These dishes have two things in common and are key to tripe success: first, thinly slicing to minimize chewing, and second, cooking the tripe separately from the finished product.

These two steps alone will lead to a menudo with a more appealing flavor. My own extra tip for the cleanest tasting and smelling menu you’ve ever had is to give the tripe a body scrub of distilled salt and vinegar before cooking it in water seasoned with salt and vinegar, which will neutralize lingering unpleasant odors.

Is the menudo worth all that effort?

Absoutely. There is nothing more satisfying than a carefully prepared dish that respects the sacrifice of the animal and the culture and gastronomy that waste nothing.

How to Clean and Cook Tripe

Rub the tripe with salt before cooking.

Tripe can be easily found in Mexican and Asian grocery stores, honeycomb and pound or sheet tripe are the most common. These are the second and third stomachs respectively, and both can be used for menudo, but stick to one type, as they differ in texture and cooking time.

It’s best to buy tripe in large chunks, rather than already portioned, to make cleaning easier. When cleaning, the use of food-safe gloves is recommended.

  1. Place the tripe in a flat layer and use a small knife to scrape off the attached fat.
  2. Use a small handful of kosher salt to rub the tripe thoroughly, making sure to include honeycomb pockets.
  3. Soak the rubbed tripe in a mixture of one cup distilled vinegar and three cups cold water for five minutes. Rinse well under cold running water, removing all the salt. Repeat this process one more time.
  4. After the second rinse, check the tripe for any other attached fat and remove it if necessary.
  5. Place the clean tripe in the sauce or pot and cover with at least two inches of cold water. Add ¼ cup of distilled vinegar and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Bring to a steady boil and cook until the tripe is soft but still retains some chewiness, about one to two and a half hours, depending on the type of tripe.
  6. To test for doneness, cut a thin piece of meat, about half an inch, and let cool for a few minutes before enjoying. The tripe should have a consistency similar to fluffy rice or tapioca.
  7. When tender, remove the tripe from the cooking liquid and let come to room temperature before cutting into ½ inch by two inch pieces.

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Recipe: How to make a menudo blanco estilo Sonora

Menudo is a classic Mexican comfort food.

Nixtamal, already partially cooked for menudo or pozole, is readily available at Mexican grocery stores and requires only a good rinse and scooping to remove damaged grains before cooking.

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of nixtamal
  • 1 large white onion, halved
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dry Mexican oregano
  • 2 pounds honeycomb or pound tripe, cleaned with salt and white vinegar and cooked
  • Kosher salt, as needed

To serve:

  • chopped white onion
  • chopped cilantro
  • tatemado pepper, roasted anaheim pepper, cut into strips or chopped
  • thinly sliced ​​radish
  • shredded iceberg lettuce
  • chili pepper
  • lime wedges

Preperation:

  1. Rinse the nixtamal well, removing any damaged or discolored grains. Place in a large pot with the white onion and garlic. Note: Onion and garlic skins do not need to be removed unless they look different. Add 3 liters of water and bring to a steady boil, skimming off any scum or impurities that rise to the surface. Once well simmered, add the bay leaves and Mexican oregano.
  2. Cook the nixtamal lightly covered until soft enough to start to pop, about 2 hours. If the pan starts to dry out, add hot water. A small amount of cooking liquid reduction is desirable to concentrate the flavors.
  3. After 2 hours, once the nixtamal begins to soften, add the sliced ​​tripe and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Taste the soup and adjust the flavor by adding salt as needed, 1 teaspoon at a time, allowing the seasoning to dissolve before retesting.
  5. Cooked onion and garlic can be tossed or left in the soup, depending on personal taste, although they mostly dissolve in the broth.
  6. To serve the menudo, garnish with one or all of the following ingredients: chopped white onion, chopped cilantro, chile tatemado (roasted anaheim pepper) cut into strips or chopped, minced radish and shredded iceberg lettuce. Plus, the fiery chiltepín and ever-present tangy lime wedges add a much-needed splash of brightness.

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Questions or comments? Email the culinary team at [email protected]. Follow chef Minerva Orduño Rincón on Instagram @cucumbersandlimes.

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