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CINCO DE MAYO: Make Menudo, A Hearty Mexican Soup

menudo-tripe-norecipes-230
Menudo, a Mexican stew made with tripe
(chuck roast can be substituted). Photo
courtesy NoRecipes.com.
 

Chef Johnny Gnall’s mother grew up in Mexico City. She discovered her talent for cooking at a young age, and amassed recipes from friends and family while still a young girl.

Her greatest teacher, however, was her nanny, Eulalia, a native Mexican. A tremendous source of knowledge on authentic Mexican cooking, many of Eulalia’s recipes dated back several hundred years. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, Johnny shares this one.

“Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup made from tripe (cow stomach). It is very hearty and lore suggests it as a hangover cure. Foreign to most Americans, tripe is actually a lot better than it sounds. If cooked right, its flavor and texture become like that of great pot roast.

“Buttery and velvety on your palate, the meat almost melts in your mouth and gives an unmistakable richness to the whole dish. If you’re still not convinced and the thought of stomach is a bit much (or your butcher doesn’t have any on hand), you can substitute chuck roast for a more American-friendly menudo.

“Traditionally, you would use a casuela, a large earthenware pot; but any pot will do if you’re short on Mexican earthenware.”

There is also an unrelated Philippine menudo, a stew made with sliced pork and calf’s liver in tomato sauce.

RECIPE: MENUDO

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chuck roast or tripe
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1 tablespoon each: marjoram, oregano and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A few pinches of salt
  • 4 cups of Peruvian corn (maiz—see note below)
  •  
    For The Chile Sauce

  • 5 fresno chiles
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt to taste
  •  
    Garnishes

  • Chili powder
  • Chopped white onion
  • Lime wedges
  • Oregano
  • Salsa(s)
  •  
    Plus

  • Warm tortillas
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the bay leaf, garlic and onion in a piece of cheesecloth tied with kitchen twine, or other device for easy removal.

    2. DICE the beef into half-inch pieces and place in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, herbs and salt and fill the pot the remainder of the way with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 4 hours, or until the meat is fall-apart tender. Then turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf, garlic and onion.

    3. BOIL the corn in a separate pot until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

    4. COOK the corn. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

    5. MAKE the chile sauce. Soak the chiles in hot water for 20 minutes. Then combine them in a blender with the other ingredients plus enough of the beef broth to keep things spinning with ease. Once blended, strain and add to the pot of beef. Simmer for 20 more minutes, then add the corn.

    6. SERVE with the garnishes on the side so people can add what they like. Add some warm tortillas into the mix and you are good to go!

      peruvian-corn-choclo-peruviandelights-230r
    This is maiz, also called choclo in Peru and Peruvian corn in the U.S. Photo courtesy PeruvianDelights.com.
     
    MORE ABOUT MENUDO

    In Mexico, there are regional variations, which have been brought to Mexican-American communities in the U.S.

    There’s annual Menudo Festival in Santa Maria, California, where you can feast on the different varieties. Here’s more about menudo.
     
    WHAT IS PERUVIAN CORN

    Most historians believe that maize was domesticated in the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico. Numerous varieties were cultivated by the Olmecs and Mayas. Corn had spread throughout Mesoamerica by 2500 B.C.E.

    In a region with so many varieties of corn, names evolved. The type of corn grown in the U.S. is called elote (ee-LO-tay). Peruvian-style corn, with giant white kernels, is called maiz (ma-EES).

    It is also called choclo in Peru (more than 30 varieties of corn are grown in every color and size imaginable). These jumbo kernels have a different texture than American corn varieties and are less sweet. They were first cultivated in Cusco, the city high in the Andes that was once the capital of the Inca empire.

    Choclo has been a staple of the Peruvian diet for thousands of years. It is used to make everything from tamales to soups and pastries.

    It can typically be found frozen or dried at Latin markets and online.
      




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