Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Cold Winter Food- Braised Tripe
I was lucky enough to grow up in Northern California in the 1970s and 1980s, a time when establishments like Chez Panisse in Berkeley were just starting to start an American food revolution. My parents discovered Chez Panisse in its earliest days, not knowing that it would one day take a place among the most influential restaurants in American history. At the time, it was just a great place to eat, and some of my earliest food memories center around meals at Chez Panisse. By the time I ate at Chez Panisse, I believe Paul Bertolli (who would later open Oliveto in Oakland) was the chef, and I remember being amazed that food so simple could taste so good. There was a certain simple elegance to the dishes at Chez Panisse, it will never be confused with a place like Le Bernardin in NY or Taillevent in Paris, both places that I've eaten, and yet for me, if I had to choose one final meal on this planet, I'd eat at Chez Panisse.
It probably should come as no surprise then when I decide to cook that I often reach for a copy of one of the Chez Panisse cookbooks. I would have to say that "Chez Panisse Cooking" is my favorite in the series, written by Paul Bertolli with Alice Waters. The recipes are all first rate and most are simple enough for the home cook. So when the weather here in Portland started to snow and become bitterly cold and I decided that I wanted to cook one of my favorite cold weather foods, tripe, I reached for this book. Something about tripe is really comforting for me in cold weather. Its not terribly hard to make, usually the biggest challenge is actually finding a grocery store that still sells honeycomb tripe. For this dish, I had to drive over to 82nd avenue to the Fubonn supermarket, an asian grocer that sells all kinds of variety meats and specialty cuts. I varied a bit from Bertolli's recipe in the book, more due to my lack of ingredients in my cupboard or an oversight on my part, but the credit for this recipe deserves to go to Paul Bertolli. This made a wonderful stew of braised tripe which worked really well over a bowl of soft polenta or ribbon noodles and a big glass of nice chianti wine. In pairing wines with tripe, I don't think anything works better than chianti, you don't need a riserva, but do buy a quality chianti to accompany this dish.
1 1/2 lb honeycoomb tripe (easier to find in hispanic or asian markets)
2 tblsp butter
1 1/2 stalks celery (I used 2) cut into small dice
2 carrots cut into small dice
1 yellow onion cut into small dice
3 oz pancetta, thinly sliced and diced (I substituted bacon)
2 bay leaves
2 c tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced, juice strained and reserved (I used a 24oz can of diced tomatoes)
3 large garlic cloves crushed
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne powder
1 qt chicken broth (I needed almost double this amount)
To finish- ( I skipped this and just covered the braised tripe with grated parmesan with great results)
2 tblsp unsalted butter
3 tblsp chopped italian parsley
grated Parmesan cheese
Rinse the tripe and cut it into thin strips about 2 inches long. Melt butter in a large pot, add celery, carrots, onion, pancetta (or bacon) and saute over med-low heat for 5 minutes. Pour in the canned tomatoes (or your fresh ones), bay leaf, garlic, salt, cayenne and tripe and stir well. Add the chicken broth and raise heat to bring to a boil. Skim and scum that rises to the top and cover and cook at a simmer for 2 hrs.
Remove cover, raise heat to a gentle boil and cook 30-35 minutes more allowing the liquid to thicken and reduce and it becomes sauce-like. Cooking should be stopped when the tripe is still distinct but offers no resistance when bitten into.
Before serving, warm the tripe over low heat, stir in butter and parsley, grind pepper over the top and grate Parmesan cheese on top of each portion. Great over pasta or polenta.
Serves 6 as a small portion