Although menudo came to Texas from the Mexican state of Sonora, tripe stew may be more popular on the Texas side of the border than anywhere else in Mexico. Texans have labeled menudo the “Breakfast of Champions” because if its reputed ability to cure a hangover.
Cooking menudo can be a long, time-consuming process, with the preparation and cleaning of the tripe being the most difficult. The results, however, to those that have had a great bowl of menudo in their lifetime, will tell you it is all worth it.
1 cup Kosher salt
1 cup white vinegar
2 pounds honeycomb tripe
Be sure and get honeycomb tripe, because it is the most tender of all varieties of tripe. It is still relatively tough, and requires long, slow cooking.
The day before planning to serve it, clean the tripe thoroughly. Mix together the salt and vinegar, and pour about 1/3 of the mixture into a large bowl. Add the tripe. Scrub the tripe with a brush. The rough kosher salt will act as an abrasive for cleaning the tripe. Rinse the tripe under cold water, and repeat the process 2 more times. Transfer the tripe to a bowl and cover with cold water. Place in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 8 hours. Change the water at least once during the process.
6 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 tablespoons corn or canola oil
2 large onions, chopped
4 to 6 garlic cloves
2 to 4 serrano chiles, minced
2 jalapenos, minced
1 smoked ham hock
2 tablespoons quality chile powder
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1 14 1/2 to 16-ounce can white or yellow hominy
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
salt to taste
Remove the tripe from the refrigerator and drain it. Cut it into bite-size pieces, and place the pieces in a large, heavy saucepan or stockpot. Cover with cold water, and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Boil the tripe for 30 minutes. Drain the water and reserve the tripe.
Rinse and dry the stockpot and return it to the stove. Add the oil, turn the heat to medium, and add the onions, garlic, and serrano chiles. Saute until the vegetables are soft, then add back the tripe. Add the ham hock and chicken stock, and simmer over low heat for about 3 hours.
Remove the ham hock, discarding any bones or large pieces of fat. Shred the meat from the ham hock, and reserve it. Add the chile powder, salt, pepper, oregano, and hominy. Simmer on low for another hour, or until the stew has cooked down and the tripe is tender. The tripe will still be a little chewy. Return the ham hock meat and add the cilantro.
Serve the menudo hot in large bowls with the wedges of lime. The menudo will keep in the refrigerator for several days.