Beef Tripe
Blanket Tripe 03k
Blanket Tripe
Honeycomb Tripe 12k
Honeycomb Tripe
Book Tripe 10k
Book Tripe
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A cow has four stomachs. The stomach walls of the first three are commonly sold as "tripe" and the fourth less commonly so. Some Americans hold tripe to be disgusting, but there are many famous recipes for it and its popularity is world-wide.

The most famous American tripe dish is Philadelphia Pepper Pot, said to have saved the American Revolution when Washington's army was starving at Valley Forge. In keeping with other famous tripe soups and stews, it should be made with a calf's foot. Mexican Menudo is perhaps the tripe dish most familiar to Americans and is famed as a hangover cure (tripe and calf foot have this reputation in a number of countries).

More on Beef Innards.

Buying:   Tripe tends to be rather rare in chain supermarkets, but is very common in ethnic markets serving Asian, European, Mexican, South American, and Near and Middle Eastern communities. A specialty meat market should also be able to supply it.

Unlike the tripe described in older cookbooks, that sold in North America today is thoroughly cleaned, parboiled and bleached, so it's pretty much ready to go. As purchased it should have almost no odor.

Buy the type of tripe appropriate to your recipe. Generally rustic recipes are happy with Blanket Tripe, the more refined prefer Honeycomb Tripe. Book tripe is not so commonly used but has a unique texture and mingles well with sauces.

A cow has four stomachs, each providing a distinct form of tripe:

  • Blanket Tripe, also known as flat or smooth tripe, double tripe (obsolete) or gras double (French), comes from the first stomach, the rumen. This is the lowest cost tripe and is fine for most soups and stews.
  • Honeycomb Tripe comes from the second stomach, the reticulum. It is preferred for more delicate dishes or where holding sauces well is desired.
  • Book Tripe, also known as leaf or bible tripe, comes from the third stomach, the omasum. It is less common than the other two but provides a unique double texture, thick and thin.
  • Reed Tripe comes from the fourth stomach, the abomasum, but is is rarely seen in American markets due to its glandular nature. It is called for in some traditional Italian recipes.

Role Tripe is an 18th century term no longer used and nobody seems to know exactly what kind of tripe it designated.

Green Tripe is tripe fresh from the cow and may be olive green, gray or brown. In this condition it's ugly, crusty, smelly and unappetizing, though dogs like this form best. Cleaning green tripe is a real hassle and is described cookbooks from early times. The tripe sold in North American markets has already been thoroughly cleaned so you don't have to do that, unless you're disassembling your own cow.

Yield:   You will end up with less than half the weight you started with, as little as a third for honeycomb tripe. Recipes should give the starting weight unless explicitly stated otherwise. Unfortunately many cookbook writers are very sloppy about things like this - they presume the whole world does everything the exact same way they do (British cookbooks are particularly bad this way). If there are no instructions to cook the tripe in the recipe, its a good bet the weight is for already cooked tripe.

Cooking Procedure:

  1. Rinse the tripe thoroughly and remove any fat that may be attached to it.
  2. Place the tripe in a pot with cold water to cover. Add some Citric Acid or Lemon Juice to the water along with a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil for a few minutes, then drain and rinse the tripe.
  3. With fresh water, acid and salt, repeat the above step.
  4. Clean the pot. Return the tripe to the pot and add fresh cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and and simmer until tender but still "al dente", especially if it will be cooked much more in the recipe. Cooking time will depend on the type of tripe, about 2-1/4 hours for Blanket Trip down to 1-1/4 hours for Book Tripe. It shoud still be a bit chewy, but not too much.
  5. Cut the tripe to whatever size and shape the recipe calls for.

I've read complaints about the odor of cooking tripe on Internet discussion boards. I don't know where they got their tripe, but that we have in Southern California has almost no odor as purchased and only a light and not unpleasant odor when cooking.

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