Tripe stew is a common dish in southern Germany, where I am from. It’s actually parts of cow, pork, or lamb stomachs and has a neutral taste and kind of a chewy texture. My Grandma used to spend all day in the kitchen preparing it and cooking it in a white thick stew. After living 18 years in the United States, we came back to Germany and I figured that I should give cooking tripe stew another try, just hadn’t been that successful over the years – after all, nobody can make it as good as Grandma made it!!!
So I went to the Commissary and bought a frozen pack of tripe and made myself smart online on how to prepare it, while it defrosted. To my dismay, when I opened the pack, I realized that my tripe was still green, not the already pre-boiled type you get from the butcher shop. Green tripe is supposed to be excellent to make dog food out of. So, I googled some more and found out how to clean and prep it myself.
I dumped the contents of the bag in a colander and rinsed it several times. Peeeyew!!! It smelled so bad like stable, but I knew it was supposed to. Then I took each section and peeled off the inner membrane, the stomach lining, and picked the “green” bits of grassy material from it. Then I transferred the cleaned tripe into a bowl of cold salt water to soak overnight in the fridge.
Only one minor problem remained – my hands stank to high heaven and not even dish-soap could get rid of the ode a’la pig style. It was really bad. I was desperate, so I tried some spa hand-scrub stuff I had in one of my bathroom drawers. It actually worked and my hands smelled like I just took a nice bubble bath…
The next day, I poured the tripe into a colander and rinsed it again. Now it was time to boil it in some salt water for a while. Again, I knew it would smell kind of stablely again – that’s normal. When my husband and teenage sons came back, they almost walked out backwards. “Holy crap, what smells like a..?” my husband asked. My sons were a little more polite. I told them that I was making “Kutteln” and we’d have it for dinner tonight. I used the German word, so they didn’t know what they would be eating and at least give it a try. They about gagged.
Finally, after it cooked for about 3 hours, I rinsed the tripe again and cut the pieces into thin strips. Since I’m following a primal lifestyle, I didn’t want to use the thick, white soup, since it’s prepared with flour. Instead, I heated up some ghee (clarified butter) in a pan, glazed some onions, and added the tripe strips. For a finish touch I spiced the dish with some salt, pepper, a bay leaf and a bit of ground cloves and let the stuff cook for a bit.
When my tripe was finished, I put it in a bowl and sat down at the dinner table, not knowing what to expect. For some reason, I felt very lonely at the table. Yet, I got over my initial aversion and tried a fork full. Actually, it didn’t turn out too bad. It was chewy, as I thought, and the flavor was surprisingly not like the smell. I called my kids down from their rooms to have them try some of my yummy dish. Reluctantly, they took a bite – gotta give them that much credit – then, when I asked them if they wanted a plate full, they politely declined. Somehow, my starving children were no longer feeling hungry. I didn’t even attempt to ask my husband to try it. He made it clear the day before that he will not have a single bite of that stuff. Well, after about half of a small bowl, I had enough, covered the rest, and put it into the fridge for consumption at a later day/time. My husband told me: “You better put it out in the sun to heat it up, because you’re not cooking that sh.. in the house!”
This morning when I went into the kitchen to feed my begging kitties, the smell of tripe still lingered in the air and my family had no problems in saying so. My husband finally said that tripe is “FORBIDDEN IN OUR HOUSE, FOREVER MORE!”
Moral of the story: Just because something smells like a.., it doesn’t have to taste like sh..!