Whatever you heard about menudo is probably right. Mexican menudo is one of those soups that you typically only find being cooked on the weekends, whether that be in a Mexican restaurant, or in many traditional homes. My home was one of those this weekend, and I only made this because on a recent lunch break at my favorite taqueria, I noticed some guy was buying a massive amount of honeycomb tripe. This essentially sparked my interest. After talking with the guy, I pretty much looked at him and said ‘Menudo this weekend?’. Yep, he announced, and he stated the honeycomb tripe was the one you want to make your menudo with. I honestly thought the guy was buying all of it, as he did state ‘you gotta buy a lot when it’s on sale, and today is that day!’. I kid you not, the guy bought 21 pounds of tripe. That’s a lot of tripe!!
I actually fell in love with tripe years ago when living in Dallas, and eating Vietnamese pho. Tripe is essentially the edible lining of a cow’s stomach, and it is something that not only needs to be cleaned well, but also cooked nice and slow so it is really tender. This menudo is not only super easy to make, granted it takes a bit of time, but I love that on the weekends, but it is really, really good.
Let’s get started.
- 3 lbs of beef oxtails
- 2 lbs honeycomb tripe, any fat trimmed and removed
- 1 whole cows foot, split down the middle
- 2 heads of garlic, to of each head removed
- 1 whole white onion, diced
- 1/2 tbsp salt, to taste
- 1 tbsp dried Mexican oregano
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 oz Menudo spice mix (found at local Mexican grocery store)
- 25 oz can of hominy, drained and rinsed
Ingredients for the chili paste:
- 3 dried ancho chilies, stems and seeds removed
- 6 dried guajillo chilies, stems and seeds removed
- 6 dried chili de arbol chilies, stems and seeds removed
- 3 dried morita chilies, stems and seeds removed
- 7 oz can of chipotle chili sauce
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 white onion
- 1 tsp cumin powder
For garnishing the menudo:
- fresh cilantro
- diced onion
- warm corn tortillas
- Additional chili powder
Get a large soup pot on the stove. Add the oxtails, and cows feet. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and let this cook for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain the oxtails, and cows feet, reserving them.
Clean out the soup pot, and then rinse off any scum from the oxtails and cows feet. Place back into the soup pot, covering again with plenty of water.
Bring the mixture back to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
At this time, add in the 2 heads of garlic, the bay leaves, salt, Mexican oregano, Menudo spice mix, and diced onions. Give a good stir, and cook for about 2 hours, skimming off any additional scum that may surface.
Next, get a skillet on medium-low heat. Add in all of the chilies, and 3 cloves of garlic, skin left on. Your goal here is to lightly toast the chilies, without burning them, to bring out their essential oils. This takes about 5 minutes or so, turning them along the way. Once they are lightly toasted, add in about a cup of water, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
During this time, add the tripe into a large bowl and cover with cold water. Add in about a tablespoon of salt, and set this aside.
Remove the chilies, and place them into a food processor. Remove the skins from the garlic, and add the garlic to the food processor. Add in the cumin powder, the onion, and about 1 cup of fresh water. Blend until you have a smooth mixture.
Next, using a fine mesh strainer or chinois, strain this mixture over a bowl. The goal is to remove any clumps from the onion, garlic, or chilies. Pour the chili liquid from the bowl and into the soup pot. Give this a good stir, then add in the small can of chipotle sauce. Give another good stir. Season and adjust for any additional salt.
Now for the tripe. Strain the tripe, and rinse it off really well to remove any excess salt. You want the tripe, at least in my opinion, to be in about 2 inch pieces. So if you have to cut them down to size, please do so.
Add the tripe to the soup pot, mix, and cook an additional 3-4 hours. About one hour in, add the hominy.
Now you are ready to eat! Remove the cows feet, 2 heads of garlic, and the bay leaves and discard those. You may be thinking ‘cow’s feet?!’. Yes, the collagen from those feet actually create the mouthfeel for this menudo.
Remove the oxtails (if they do not already fall apart for you, and using a large slotted spoon, remove any strange fatty material from the remains of the foot, along with any additional bones. Once the bones and fatty materials are removed, it is now time to create your bowl of awesome menudo.
Ladle in generous amounts of the menudo, making sure you are getting some beef, and tripe. Garnish with lots of fresh lime, onions, and cilantro. Serve with warm corn tortillas, then repeat.
This soup is really darn good. Not only in texture, but also in flavor. It was just the right amount of spice, aroma, and is really built for a weekend feast. If you haven’t tried tripe before, well, maybe, just maybe is now that time. I hope you enjoy!