Tripe

Why would I want to eat the stomach lining of a cow? Well, let’s see:

1. Because, like Everest, it’s there.

2. Because I’m an adventurous eater. Dog? Done it. Seahorse? Delicious. Locusts? Bring ‘em on.

3. Because my old friend Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall says I should, revealing in his wondrous Bible of Meat™ that his own experiments with the dish have been “a resounding success” (page 199). And, as regular readers will know, when Hugh says ‘jump’, I generally grab my trusty chef’s blade and start chopping chunks of flesh.

Tripe, in it’s naked form (above) is not an attractive prospect. It has the look and feel of a sodden bath mat, whilst it gives off the damp and musty odour of a basset hound that’s just just come in from the rain; one can understand why it doesn’t sit comfortably next to the racks of lamb and beef medallions at your local Waitrose.

Turning the thing into something resembling edible food is going to be a challenge, and I choose the classic Lancashire recipe – tripe and onions – because it seems such an arbitrary mix of ingredients: cooked in milk and flavoured with nutmeg. Why that combination? Why not marry the innards to carrot, boil them in gin and add a dusting of turmeric? Or mix with asparagus, roast in peanut sauce then lightly sprinkle with licorice shavings? I don’t know the answer, and I’m not going to argue with tradition. So we start by parboiling the tripe.

While the tripe is receiving its watery baptism I cut up a couple of white Italian onions, the theory being that this will preserve the pale nature of the dish – if you’re going to cook white stuff, I reason, then why not do it properly?

The tripe is removed from the water and cut into pieces, and then it’s back into the pan, where it nestles comfortably amongst the onions, doused in a pint of milk and seasoned with a healthy pinch of nutmeg and a bay leaf.

And next? We simmer the ingredients for a couple of hours. What you do during this time is up to you, but in case you\’re short of ideas, this is what I got up to: I took some rubbish down to the basement, put up a couple of Zero Gravity shelves in the bedroom, watered my collection of chives, read chapter six of The Last Amateurs: Playing for Glory and Honor in Division 1 Basketball by the great American sportswriter John Feinstein, and made some mashed potato. What a life, eh?

Then I strain the tripe, making sure to preserve the cooking liquid. Suddenly, it’s looking more like food although, to be fair, it’s not terribly attractive yet, taking on the appearance of a faded orange porridge.

Meanwhile, back in the pan, I melt some butter, stir in a few tablespoons of flour and cook gently for a minute or so, stirring continuously. Then it’s off the heat, and in with the reserved cooking liquid, before returning to the stove and back to the boil, all the time stirring, until the sauce is nicely thickened. Finally, the tripe and onions go back in, and the whole shebang is reheated, plated next to the mash, and garnished with parsley.

To be quite frank, it’s disgusting. It has the texture of mucus. Or glue. And it tastes like decomposing leek. I invite my neighbour to sample a mouthful, but he describes it as the worst thing he’s ever eaten. And strangely, I think this is how it’s meant to taste. The recipe is a ‘classic’, and I’m confident enough in my own abilities in the kitchen to know when I’ve screwed up a recipe – and I haven’t in this case.

I suspect that that tripe has dropped out of fashion for a a very good reason: that in reality, no-one likes the bloody stuff, not even your Gran. And while I’m all for the waste-nothing, nose-to-nail approach to meat eating, this is a step too far, like making a pie out of hair or some eyelid soup: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

The mashed potato was really yummy, however.

51 Comments

  1. In defense of tripe:

    Tripe is good when prepared well. I’ve never seen that “classic” Lancashire tripe dish before. I’ve only had it with chinese food (dim sum) or in my tacos I purchase off the streets of Los Angeles. It’s never tasted like the texture of mucus to me. This may just be a difference in opinion.

    Oh wait, I’ve also had tripe in Florence, Italy. The tripe was cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and baked in some earthenware. Mighty tasty stuff.

  2. I must chime in with Nick in defense of tripe – I live in Taiwan, and here (and probably many Asian countries) tripe is appreciated for its chewy texture – i.e. you definitely don’t try to cook it until it is squishy and yucky – instead, cook it in soup, or steam and serve with spring onions. Although I personally still don’t like it…

  3. I concur, tripe served in soup, such as menudo, is very good. The chewiness is part of the appeal. Perhaps this “classic” recipe wasn’t a good choice.

  4. I don’t care how you prepare it or how good you tell me it takes I will die a happy man knowing i never ate the stomach of any animal…

  5. Fair play for giving it a go. I have eaten tripe every day of my life since i was born. I am now 160 years old and still go like a sewing machine. Ask any of the girls down the bingo.

  6. Good Lord, it looks utterly vile! I saw something similar a week or so ago, when my spaniel was unwell after eating too much pasta.

    I’d forgotten how bad tripe & onions is, but you’ve jogged a latent memory: I can remember coming home from school & being almost unable to enter the house because of the smell – my mother was cooking Dad’s monthly “special” T&O.

    Ee, it were tough up north.

    How did HF-W cook it? Onions & white sauce? Mind you, he did eat that placenta…

  7. I’m not all that keen on tripe, but my wife loves it, up here it is sometimes served raw, with vinegar and salt. Your finished dish looks a little mushy, was the tripe overcooked ? I used to make tripe at a nursing home, I don’t think we cooked i for quite as long as you did.

    I tried pig’s stomach soup in Singapore last year, it was excellent, thin and peppery, the flesh was somewhat like tongue.

    I’m reading an excellent book called ‘Extreme Cuisine’ by Jerry Hopkins, you ought to get a copy. Have you tried Balut ? 18 day odd fertilised eggs complete with crunchy baby birds inside.

  8. Yeah, I’ve read that book. Great photos – love the one of the Cambodian girl gnawing on a huge spider.

    The tripe may have been overcooked, although I read a few different recipes for tripe and onions and erred on the side of caution in the end – a couple recommended simmering the tripe for four hours.

  9. Having eaten a lot of tripe and onions at home ‘when I were a lad’ I’d say that yours doesn’t look that close to what we used to eat. Certainly the fact that your mash looks whiter than your T ‘n’ O is worrying. They should really be the same colour. For that full on Dulux effect. Adding a garnish is obviously a no-no too.

    I can’t say that I ever loved it but I ate it happily enough. Sometimes my mum would cook sausages in the same sauce for my sister who obviously had better taste than the rest of us.

    We would have malt vinegar and pepper on it

    All said and done I think sticking with French/Spanish/Portugese recipes would probably be a better introduction.

  10. oh my lord fraser, it looks more disgusting than you described.

  11. What a sad waste of some yummy tripe. =)

    Try it in context. I’m a huge fan of tripe dishes from around the world: Polish flaczki (spicy tripe soup), Mexican menudo (another spicy tripe soup), and Vietnamese pho (hmm – spicy soup often made with tripe).

  12. I’m Polish, so I’ve sampled some of the aforementioned tripe soup – flaczki – and I’d consider it something of an acquired taste. My mom loves the stuff, though.
    Nothing screams delicious quite like the pale, spongy stomach lining of a cow!

  13. I had tripe in Japan, grilled over a small BBQ and dipped in a savory, spicy dip. It was pretty good, quite chewy and almost a bit crunchy on the outside.

    That however really does look disgusting. I do love these food posts though.

  14. Your classic is a little different to my classic – I cook it almost the same way except I fry the onions with smokey bacon (or speck) prior to boiling, and finish it off with cream and white-wine instead of the roux.

    Still, mad props for trying. Perhaps Tripe Florentine might be more your style with tomato and chilli to liven things up? And, as Nick says above, dim sum style tripe is a beautiful thing indeed.

    Why not do tongue next? The dish that tastes you back!

  15. My dog won’t even touch tripe, and that’s saying something.

  16. You’ve come over all Bernard Black:

    Tripe, tripe, tripe tripe tripe, tripe, tripe tripe, tripe … eeugh! *throws tripe at ceiling*

  17. Fraser, great to see you getting to grips with some stomach. I would normally not shy away from organ meats (I support Fergus Henderson’s approach) but my Dad used to cook this for our springer spaniels and while they loved it, it stank the house and garden out and I’ve never been able to overcome the memory. I did try to desensitize in Vietnam, in a Pho soup, but the slivers were so small I didn’t really notice it.

    So what’s next from the Fraser Kitchen?

  18. It’s the recipe wot done it. Your recipe is a bit basic.

  19. You should have tried some of the Spanish recipes for tripe. I am not overly fond of the texture, but I do have to admit that the taste of some of the “callos” dishes, as tripe is called in Spain, can qbe quite amazing.

  20. When I was younger my ma made this very recipe. I think she got it form the ‘Dairy Diary’ and made quite a hoo-haa about it beforehand.
    It was absolutely gopping.

  21. My father can’t eat onions, due to unshakeable mental and physical aversion caused by being fed tripe and onions as a kid. Reassuring to know that your esteemed culinary talents can’t redeem this relic of WW2-era rationing.

  22. The only time I’ve had tripe was in Rome, Trippa ala Romana, and although the texture took a little getting used to, I thought it was lovely. It certainly had a lot some bite to it and it was made with tomatoes and pecorino. Really quite good, try it if ever you’re in Rome, apparently the Romans do.

  23. Oh my good Lord – Tripe – yuk – gip gip! (sorry just the memory of being force feed raw tripe with vingar as a child by a cruel and unloving set of parents!
    Having said that – they did also feed it to our dogs who had lovely glossy coats as a result of eating this foul smelling (sorry gip gip again!) foodstuff – so maybe L’Oreal would be interested in producing a tripe flavoured shampoo. ( Oh my God – *Freya run’s to loo to be sick* gip gip!)

  24. Ooh dear, that doesn’t look good. The only time I’ve eaten tripe was in Brasil – I had it in strips, in a thick stew with beans. It actually tasted pretty good – rubbery strips, tasting of the bean stew rather than anything else.

    I vomited afterwards, but that wasn’t related to the taste of the thing. I probably just had a stomach bug to be honest.

  25. Nothing wrong with tripe. However I don’t think you can get it in the UK unless it’s been bleached, which is what yours looks like. I tried some from the butcher’s a few weeks ago, and it’s bland and tasteless and mushy.

    The guy at the farmer’s market in Manchester said he’s not allowed to take Tripe out of the abbatoir. Shame. So it may indeed be impossible to get it in a proper raw state (indeed HFW says it’s hard to get hold of).

    Had a tripe dish atop a mountain in Chile (probably a Spanish style recipe) and it was lovely — cooked in a spicy tomato sauce.

    My Carluccio’s italian cookery book says the Italians love the stuff and sell loads of types — I am tempted to have a self catered holiday over there and give the proper stuff a try.

  26. Derek Acorah's Spirit Guide Sam

    I come from a little Yorkshire village, and my dad (and most of my family) eat tripe raw with malt vinegar, a bit of salt and pepper, and bread and butter. My dad also likes ‘pig’s bag’ (bladder) in the same way – give it a try! (I now live in Leeds, and think eating the internal organs of an animal is viiile. Leeds market do cracking steaks though. Mmm. Meat)

  27. Should you really have boiled it to mush? You cocked up beautifully, there: less boiling, malt vinegar, pepper. The only reason I don’t eat it is because of the moaning of others. I LOVED tripe when I was a kid.

    So did my mum, cos it was cheap.

  28. Home made menudo is the best and perhaps only use for tripe. Your taking something thats kind of bland and jazzing it up and it’s quite unique. And it’s saposed to cure your hangover as well:)!

  29. i just came back from Korea where a businessman treated us to a 4 course tripe barbecue.
    He said that a cow had four stomachs and we would take a wondrous culinary journey though each one in order.
    The first one all right, pretty chewy like squid – but it was pretty nasty from there on, even though they cooked the second tripe in a lovely Cumberland spiral on the grill – much better presented than your tripe Frazer!

  30. Trust *you people* to ruin the best of basic ingredients by overcooking/boiling them and pretend you’ve made an effort by adding some butchered onions in the mix…tsk!

    Try ‘Patsas’ soup in Greece with loads of chilli flakes and red wine vinegar, or ‘Ciorba de Burta’ with lovely crusty bread in the mountains in Romania..a bit like most people described so far (re: Italy, Poland, Taiwan etc) a bit chewy, but not any moreso than, say, baby squid.

    Seriously, give it another go!

  31. I had tripe & onions for dinner only yesterday it was delicious I cook it by adding water, onions, salt and cook for a hour or so then add cornflour to thicken the sauce it comes out firm but tender add a few potatoes with it and your off – wonderful stuff if I have not eaten it for a month or two I get withdrawal syptoms – but then you may think I’m mad!

    I have eaten tripe all my life and love it my husband can’t stand it.

    We now live in Spain and can freely by tripe but you have to soak it here for a minimum of two hours so maybe because some of you have to cook it for so long try soaking it for two to three days changing the water every day of course and it may save on electricity or gas bills.

  32. Ummmm…. yeah. That’s pretty disgusting. You did it wrong.
    Many moons ago, as a young bride who didn’t know any better, I honored my husbands request to cook up some tripe for him.
    “What’s tripe?!” I asked.
    “I think it’s the inside of a cow stomach,” he said.
    Me: “How do you cook it?”
    Him: “In spaghetti sauce”
    Me: “Oh. Okay.”
    For some reason it came out very tasty. I don’t remember exactly how I cooked it, but I seem to remember boiling it in water for a long time, then slicing it into more or less bite-size strips, then cooking it in sauce for a while longer. It was kind of like eating a bowl of pasta – al dente, not mooshy. Tasted good. And the dead-animal aroma that filled my home from preboiling it eventually faded away. You just have to give it a day or two.

  33. I’ve eaten tripe in menudo and with marinara sauce. Here in southwestern Pennsylvania, the Italian Club in Muse offers a spaghetti dinner as well as one made of tripe in marinara sauce. It’s quite good. But this comes from someone who also likes liver, sweetbreads and kidney. I’ll pass on brains, however.

  34. I cooked tripe for the first time yesterday. I found thy site because I was looking for other YUMMY thing to do with tripe.
    I cooked it in the crock pot for 36 hours with beef broth onions hot peppers and s/p. Then I fried it quickly in a pan.
    DAM it was GOOD.

  35. I have had tripe and found it did not agree with me.

  36. I thought tripe was a grannie meal, my grandparents always eat it, I have just made for my mother inlaw I must have made it right as it didn’t touch the sides

  37. Ilove tripe had it every week when l was a kid mum would boil it for hrs then add to milk and onions simmer for 1hr or so have in big bowl with bowl of potatoes on side what a meal I make it myself now .kids dont know what they are missing

  38. I cook tripe to Recipe I got in an Italian cookbook; Trippa alla Fiorentina.
    Which is tripe cooked in a tomato based sauce, the addition of chunks of pork and chunky potatos make for a nice stew. Otherwise just on its own with a loaf of crusty bread.
    Depending on which part of the stomach you get I soak in water with lemon, rthen proceed to boil for a few minutes with lemon, before proceeding to cook. By the time it is ready it is so tender one woyuld think ot os chicken and the sauce is great. Here in Malta in the days of slow cooking houswifes would add a few pieces to a vegetable soup. which was thick and dense, again eaten with fresh crusty Maltese bread.

  39. I enjoyed reading the comment here as much as your article. A google search for “tripe” brought me here.
    My parents and their friends “from the old country” Italy, made tripe and considered it a delicious delicacy. They made the red sauce version. I thought it was too chewy for my child’s taste but as an adult now I might have a different opinion.

    When food was scarce every part of the animal was eaten since nothing could be wasted. People grew up eating these foods and have an acquired taste for such things.

    Maybe you should try another recipe just to say you gave it your best shot!

  40. I had tripe.

    It was like a party in my mouth!

    …where everybody was throwing up.

    To be fair, my brother made it, and he is not known for his culinary expertise. There are like Over 9,000 comments here talking about how they love tripe and would have its babies when its prepared well.

  41. I am an African American. I was surprised in reading the comments that I did not see the primary way that I have eaten it over the years. It is boiled to aid in tenderizing and it is then battered with a flour and sometimes flour and milk and then deep fried in a cooking oil.

  42. I have eaten tripe many yrs ago, and still 2 this day remember the taste, my dad used 2 cook it all the time, we come from sicaly and its a sicilian fish, also is the in side’s of a cow, yes the intestines which r either done on a bbq over hot coals seasoned or fried, yum yum, tripe is cooked well is delish, also is intestines, wat we would call budele, onastly ppl just cos something may look yuk or if not done rite do’snt mean it is yuk, i have eaten many a strange things in my life many a nasty things but tripe is not one off dem, i say give tripe a go and u just never no, u may like it:) Sedonia from ipswich.

  43. sorry lads hen you buy tripe it is already cooked
    Barry

  44. what a laugh, so funny even shouted
    the misses in to read this lot,
    thank’s.
    p.s. you can get raw tripe from the
    abatiour’s, i get a full stomach (tripe)
    in a bin bag for my dog’s for £3.50,
    was warned that all the foriegn influx
    were buying it all up now, taking it
    home and putting it in the washer,ha,ha,
    my wive would kill me,i’ve not tasted it yet but would if i could,kevin.

  45. im African and i grew up eating tripe and loving it all the way. However, today i just had pre-boiled bleached tripe and it was the most disgusting thing i have ever put in my mouth. The meat just had no flavour and it tasted like bubble wrap with bleach. Therefore i do not recommend the bleached version. I dont think that bleached tripe should even be sold for consumption because it is just not natural or healthy. Anyways long story short stay away from that bleached crap

  46. Unfortunately nothing can be said in favour of British cooking, Lancashire or not… But a good plate of Spanish callos is as tasty food as you could ask for. Prepared with chorizo, tomato sauce, peppers.. Yummy

  47. You should have sauteed it after boiling it in olive oil, roma tomatoes, pitted black olives, capers and white wine. Then season it to taste and you would have had a masterpiece (with color)

  48. Try pickling tripe by adding white vineager and sugar. Put tripe in bowl,add enough vineager to cover and add 2 tabelspoons of sugar,or to taste.

  49. Where can I purchase a tripiere?
    Thanks

  50. I was given a rather large package of frozen tripe today, and I foolishly thought it was fish. Guess I was wrong. I have a feeling I will be throwing it out quickly.

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