Now, you all know that I’m a big fan of cooking with offal – parts of the animal that are often discarded in the butchering process. So naturally, I’ve become a fond follower of Nose to Tail at Home – a blog dedicated to cooking the recipes from the critically acclaimed St. John’s cookbook, “The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating“.
Today I give you a guest post by Ryan A., the blogger behind the blog and my new personal hero 🙂
I know there is a general mistrust of tripe; interestingly enough, this dish has produced most tripe converts. It does have a seductive nature of looking like summer on a plate, but it’s not just good looks that recommend it-it is delicious.
II’d like to take a minute, just sit right there. I’ll tell you how a three year old kid ended up liking this dish.
First off, I gathered the required ingredients, which included Calvados. I’d never tried, or for that matter even heard of Calvados before flipping to page 40 of “The Cookbook”. Turns out that it’s a fancy apple brandy made in the French regions of Basse-Normandie and Lower Normandy. Not wanting to skimp, I picked up a brand called La Captive, which features a fully grown apple in the bottle.
See? Always wanted to own one of these, if only for the novelty. I’m telling myself that because I’d rather not think about all the brandy that could be filling the space that the apple takes up.
Into the pot went a few pig trotters, heads of garlic, some thyme, bay leaves, two quarts(!) of apple cider and some of the aforementioned Calvados. Up to a boil, then down to a simmer for a little over two hours.
At this point I added a whole bunch of honeycomb tripe that I had sat overnight in milk. The soaking removes a bit of the “unique”… flavor that tripe inherently touts. You can see that the flesh of the trotters had started to fall off the bone, and cider and brandy changed from transparent to opaque. I’m assuming the new cloudiness was due to all of the tasty fat and connective tissue incorporating itself into the liquid.
In past cooking sessions with tripe, I’ve had problems with managing to get it tender enough. For some reason I never cook it long enough, and I wasn’t going to make that mistake this time. Mr. Henderson states that one should be able to pinch through the flesh, so that’s what we were shooting for. In the end the tripe cooked three hours longer than the recipe called for.
After the extended cooking time I was easily able to pinch through the squares of stomach. For once, I was actually going to have tender tripe. Hooray!
The recipe notified me that the tasty liquor left in the pot was in need of reduction for use later on, so everything was dumped into a colander over a bowl…
…with this being the result. Lots of little bits of bone and other inedible things were left behind…
…so another strain was called for. Back into the pot the liquor went for a gentle reduction.
In the meantime, I picked all–or so I thought–of the piggy bones out of the tripe/trotter flesh mixture. Just a heads up if you try to make this recipe: triple check that all of the toe bones have been found. I’ll explain why later on.
While I was playing the home version of a Double Dare with pig bones on one side of the kitchen, at the other end I set up a pan with shallots, carrots, leeks and some garlic to sweat in duck fat until everything was nice and soft.
From there, a few canned plum tomatoes were crushed and added to the veggies. Everything was left over heat for another 20 minutes to “sweeten the tomatoes.” Soon after the tripe/trotter mix was incorporated along with a little of the reduced liquor and a copious amount of salt and pepper. I fretted for about 15 minutes over the seasoning due to the fact this dish is served cold, and the flavors in turn are muted because of it. The only fix is “over” seasoning, and I’ve not made the recipe enough to know the proper amounts of needed salt and pepper. When all was said and done, I had used roughly twice the normal amount of both.
A loaf pan was covered with plastic wrap, and the tripe mixture was spooned in. When the pan was full, I slowly drizzled the reduced liquid on top to fill in the empty spaces. A quick slam against the counter ensured that all of the unwanted air was expelled. Another sheet of plastic wrap was draped over the top of the pan and into the fridge it went over night.
The next day was pretty exciting, because I had been invited to take part in the first meeting of the Austin Adventure Eaters, hosted by the award winning and Energizer Bunny-like Jennie Chen and the Executive Chef of Kenichi in downtown Austin, Mark Strouhal. While my new puppy sure made an impression on the attending folks, I welcomed the chance to talk to like-minded foodies and partake of their offerings. Pig tongues preserved in bacon fat, deep fried pig ears, bacon filled pastries, and a wonderful deer heart and liver dish that defies description were just some of the dishes on hand. I’d like to thank Jenni and John Knox for their hospitality and alcohol. I’d also like to thank Mark and another chef named Dre (I’m sorry I never caught your last name) who works at Zoot in Austin for all of the mind blowing conversation. I could have listened to talked for hours and hours.
Halfway through the event I started slicing the terrine for people to try. I took a little piece myself to check the seasoning. To my dismay, it was a little bland. Even after doubling the seasoning and all my fretting, it wasn’t enough. Thankfully everyone was kind in their criticisms. Before I left, I ended up leaving huge hunks of the terrine for people to take home. The best part? I got a tweet from Amanda Joyner, one of the owners and chefs behind Retro Bizzaro Pastries here in Austin. It said, “@nose2tailathome I got a croissant put the left overs I had from you on it with a little mixed greens. IT was so yummy” which prompted me to ask how the sandwich turned out. Amanda responded with, “I loved it! The flavor was amazing not at all what I was expecting even our kids liked it :)”
Whoa. Their kids liked it?!
I had to know more, so I asked Amanda to write a quick blurb about what happened. She sent me this in return. Thank you Amanda!
When you go to a dinner party and someone says “I brought some tripe!” You usually have the few people who turns and do the awkward “Oooh….How..Nice.”
I however am a firm believer in don’t knock it till you try it, my new years resolution. After a few minutes of pushing food around on my plate I got up and grabbed myself a decent piece, closed my eyes, and…enjoyed it.
Growing up I always had this odd fear of tripe. Menudo being made was the warning bell to spend the night at someone’s house. This however was nothing like what I was expecting. The texture reminded me of a bread pudding, aldente even, a smooth softness with a hints of yummy goodness with a flavor I can’t even describe without saying one word…YUM.
The next day I decided to eat more of the tripe for lunch. Toasting up a croissant, in bacon grease of course, I laid my new friend down with some spring greens and started munching away.
Now when I eat that means little warning bells go off in my sons mind and he comes to steal my lunch. In my mind I saw him instantly disliking the sandwich and running away screaming to my husband I feed him something gross but instead…He ran off with it! My son…likes tripe?! Wanting to know what intrigued him so I sat down with him and asked why he liked it. His reply “I like jello….It’s meat jello right?”
Sure tripe’s not for everyone, but as I have found it’s not about the meat, but how it’s prepared. Try it once and if you don’t like it….well just have water near by.
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So, here’s the tripe dish that a three year old liked. I think that pretty much sums up how successful this recipe is.
Now to tie up the loose thread about the pig bones. After taking the above picture, I dug into the slice of terrine only to crunch down on a tiny yet very hard toe bone. Had I bitten down any harder, a visit to the dentist would have been required. So, again I implore you: triple check that ALL of the bones are removed before you add the tripe and trotter mixture into the sweated vegetables. I ended up checking with as many people as I could from the event that took terrine slices home, and I was the only one affected, thankfully. Next time, I’ll triple check, just to be sure.