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The Menudo Project

Mar
3

Post by community member:


My husband (ManBeef) and brother-in-law (Mahngo) are both big Menudo fans, especially after a boys night out. According to them, Menudo is the perfect hangover food–I’ll buy that, because I would have to be sick and a little drunk to willingly eat tripe.

Tripe–ICK.

But the menfolk love it and every Sunday morning or afternoon–-hungover or not-–they drag themselves out of bed, load up in the Jeep, and drive down to the local Filberto’s for some authentic Menudo.

Double ICK.

Mahngo says Filberto’s Menudo tastes just like his grandma’s. Just look at how excited he is:

Long story short, Mahngo and ManBeef have been pestering me to make Menudo from scratch. Mahngo said, “It’s really easy to make! I bet yours would be awesome. Just make sure you cook the tripe outside because the boiling innards really stink.”

*shudder*

Triple ICK.

This story almost ended right there.

Menudo doesn’t necessarily have to have tripe or other (arguably) grody things in it—most recipes are perfectly delicious with just hominy as a base. Still, I felt the Menudo would be lacking the “just like Grandma’s” taste if I left out the meat all together. I knew it would take a few tries to get it right-ish—especially if I want the kiddos to eat some. Both Chatterbox and BamBam tend to shy away from the five-alarm fire dishes.

I pulled a bunch of Menudo recipes, started cooking, and thus began what I will refer to as The Menudo Project.

Please keep all your Ricky Martin jokes to yourself.

Here is the first recipe I tried:

1 calf’s foot (I used about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of pig’s feet)
2 pounds honeycomb tripe (I left this out)
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic, peeled
6 peppercorns
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
4 quarts of water
3 large chiles anchos
A large chile poblano, peeled or 2 canned, peeled green chiles
1/2 big can of canned hominy drained
Salt as necessary
1 teaspoon oregano

Chop veggies and combine all ingredients in pot. Cook until done…

The first batch was OK. I don’t suggest you bother with a crockpot–Menudo isn’t one of those soups that benefits from the slow cooking. Menudo is better reheated the next day, as are most dishes which use red peppers and garlic. The crock pot took too long to get rolling and wasted counter space. If the boys had been hungover, this dish would have been a failure. There is no waiting for hangover food–-only car keys and a greasy spoon.

I did use pig’s feet listed in the recipe for the “ham-y undertone”. I also used green chilis instead of red to reduce the heat. Overall, the rating on the soup was a resounding *meh*. I had a problem with the pig’s feet–specifically, the ankle bones. My attention span is short and ankle bones look quite a bit like the hominy. Picking through the kids’ soup to ensure boneless-ness was annoying.

Don’t get me wrong, it was good–-and the menfolk ate it—but it wasn’t Menudo.


The second batch was much better! I used mild red pepper powder and tossed in a couple of leftover pork ribs. I even bought a big bag of the super-hot red chili powder so the boys could spice up their individual bowls.

This is the next recipe I “used”. But in case you haven’t noticed, I am not so great at following directions.

2 pounds tripe (I left this out)
3 pounds nixtamal (hominy) frozen, not canned (I used the big can. They were only $3)
3 pounds pig’s feet cut into quarters (I substituted with leftover pork ribs)
1 large onion diced
1 bunch green onion cut up in 1/4? pieces
1 bunch of cilantro chopped
2 tablespoons Oregano
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 head of garlic
2 tablespoons salt
water

Wash tripe thoroughly, remove excess fat and cut into bite sized pieces. Wash the hominy and pigs’ feet well. Combine all ingredients in a large pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer slowly until corn opens and is cooked (not overcooked). Skim off grease. The more grease off, the better.

Serve with fresh cilantro, chopped green onion, lime slices or lemon slices, and toasted bolillos.

My men-folk prefer yellow corn tortillas torn up and squished into the soup.

Mmm… This batch was very good. Still room for improvement, but I suspect Menudo will be one of those recipes I need to perfect over time.

Since I won’t do the tripe (ick!), I suspect my base recipe from now on will be this:

2 Gallons of Water
Pork meat of some type
1 head of garlic, finely chopped
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons ground red pepper
5 de arbol chile peppers (this usually means the little dried hot chilies)
6 japones chile peppers, seeds removed
6 cups canned white or yellow hominy, drained (one big can)

Sides:
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes/lemons, juiced
Fresh yellow corn tortillas



Does anyone have some tips or suggestions to make my Menudo magnificent?

My Ultimate Goal: To have Mahngo take a bite, forget where he is, and say, “Thank You, Grandma.”


Larissa blogs at The Henway.


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Posted by on March 3, 2011 | Permalink  

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Comments

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  1. 3-3
    5:07
    am

    One way to move that soup toward the stellar stage is to include 4- 6 strips minced bacon, introduced at the browning onion stage. Gives a nice undertone. However, to make truly magnificent menudo, I suspect you really do need the tripe. Two hints to help get around some of tripe’s shortcomings: use the smaller honeycomb tripe it just seems less gross, and before ‘cooking’ tripe, soak it overnight in plain water, then blanch it for 30 minutes in salted water. The tripe will be clean and soft. Can’t add much more to your menudo, I’m used to using tripe in Philadelphia Pepper Pot.

  2. 3-3
    7:19
    am

    Mmmmmmmm…..Good menudo is SO GOOD. Bad menudo is SO BAD. lol As long as the tripe is soft & tender instead of tough & rubbery, it’s amazing. I’m with you a little on this one though, Larissa. I’m not quite brave enough to cook tripe on my own. I do, however, absolutely LOVE Posole (which is pretty much menudo without the tripe, uses either beef or pork). I think there’s a Posole weekend coming up!

  3. 3-3
    8:01
    am

    You are both right. I suspect I will need to pony up and do a batch with the tripe. *sigh*

    Mrs Fuzz- you are so right. Bad menudo is a crime against soupdom.

  4. 3-3
    5:48
    pm

    I’m with you on the tripe, so I can’t help with how to cook it. But what my sister used to do when she made menudo was to leave the tripe in fairly large pieces so it was easy for those of us who don’t like tripe to fish it out and leave it for those who enjoy it. The menudo still had the flavor and it was delicious.

    I notice you used Juanita’s hominy. I think using Mexican hominy like Juanita’s makes a significant difference. It just has a different flavor, more corn-y, like the flavor of corn tortillas.

    I once lived near a little hole-in-wall restaurant known for its menudo, and on Sunday mornings there would always be a line of women and children carrying their own buckets and containers to take some menudo home to papa.

  5. 3-4
    12:17
    am

    You are a very brave girl, you must love your man a lot. 🙂
    Very interesting, but I don’t think I will ever make it.
    When we butchered our pig, somebody asked for his feet..I gladly gave them to her, because head and feet I don’t eat.

  6. 3-4
    5:22
    pm

    I have eaten tripe I think twice and find that there are other foods that I prefer, lots of other foods. That said if I were making this I believe that I would add about three inches of celery from the leafy end of a fresh bunch. The gelatinous nature of pig or calf feet would be important for the texture of this soup.
    I suppose that this is the result of the hired help on the farm being given the parts of the animal that they weren’t planning to use up at the main house. many recipes found their way from the tables of the poor to the tables of the wealthy because somebody shared dinner with the hired help and learned that they could make good meals with cast off butchering scraps.

  7. 5-18
    4:57
    am

    Ross, I believe the recipe for menudo was the product of the mexican/latino ancestral culture, deriving from their native way of life. When I say “ancestral culture,” I’m referring the natives of North and South America and the way of life of those people during the Pre-Columbian era yet after the Asiatic migration. To put it in simpler terms, the American indigenous cultures of the Omec/Aztec/Mayan civilizations etc… They were known to be excellent hunters and they valued whatever they hunted, in that they would try to utilized every part meet/bone/and skin,etc from the animal they hunted to incorporate it into their mode of survival.

    Now of what you said of menudo being “the result of the hired help on the farm being given the parts of the animal that they weren’t planning to use up at the main house”… I think you’re thinking of Europe in the middle ages and the effect it’s had on society since then. (Of course, we can go all the way back in history but I’ll just leave it there.) Here’s a page about food/Middle Ages you might find interesting: http://library.thinkquest.org/C005446/Food/English/middle_ages.html

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