La Vita Delizioso

Have the guts (to try cooking with guts)

Trippa alla pomodori (tripe with tomatoes) with poached egg

During summers spent in Rhode Island, I remember awakening to the slightly rancid smell of tripe (cow stomach) boiling on the back burner. My Sicilian grandfather was a huge believer in using every part of the animal, and that includes the guts. In fact, in his culture, the guts are revered. While tripe smells funky during the mandatory boiling process, it tastes terrific in soups and stews — I particularly enjoyed it when my grandfather slow cooked it with fresh tomatoes from his garden. For breakfast, he’d add a farm-fresh poached egg on top, and it was even tastier the next day for lunch, served as a sandwich on fresh, airy ciabatta rolls. 

I got a hankering for my grandfather’s recipe recently, so I went to see David Budworth, better known as Dave the Butcher, who shares his 25 years of experience with customers at Marina Meats (2395 Chestnut Street, 415-673-6700, marinameats.com). At any good meat market, you can ask the butcher to special order something not normally on hand. My mantra is “eat less meat, eat better meat, and know where your meat comes from,” so Dave ordered the tripe from California’s Five Dot Ranch (fivedotranch.com), where owner Todd Swickard has been producing free-range beef without the use of antibiotics or additional hormones for nearly 15 years, strictly adhering to low-stress handling, proper nutrition, and holistic management practices. Yes, good meat costs a bit more, but if you eat meat less often and in smaller portions, it costs around the same as the mystery meat at large grocery chains — and you and your family will be healthier for it. On the bright side, the guts (also known as offal) are the cheapest parts.

The second recipe is my favorite chicken liver mousse, and there’s a reason why I love it so much — it comes from the masterful “French Chef” herself, Julia Child.

Trippa alla Pomodori (Tripe with Tomatoes)

Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds cleaned and boiled tripe, cut into small pieces
⅓ cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped (plus 2 extra, left whole, for toasted bread)
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
Ciabatta bread, sliced

Fill a large stockpot with water, add tripe, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours over low heat. Drain in a colander and set aside to cool.

In a large sauté pan or French oven, heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, celery, carrot, onion, and sauté until soft and onions are translucent (about 10 to 15 minutes). Add tomato paste and stir until well incorporated.

Meanwhile, cut cooled tripe into small two-to-three-inch pieces. Add to vegetable mixture, and cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes.

Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a mixing bowl and break up tomatoes by squishing them with your hands. Add to sauté pan and simmer until sauce has reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees and toast slices of ciabatta bread on a sheet pan until golden brown. Rub the toasted slices with whole garlic cloves, drizzle with olive oil, and place in a basket lined with a clean dishtowel.

Remove tomato-tripe mixture from heat, season with salt and pepper, add freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and stir well. Pour into serving bowls and top each with a poached egg (optional) and extra Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve immediately with toasted ciabatta slices for dipping.

Julia Child’s Chicken Liver Mousse
(Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
2 cups chicken livers
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced shallots
⅓ cup cognac (may substitute brandy)
¼ cup whipping cream
½ teaspoon salt
Dash of allspice
Dash of pepper
Pinch of dried thyme
½ cup melted butter
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Remove any greenish or blackish spots from the livers, as well as any sinew. Cut the livers into one-half inch pieces.

Melt butter over medium heat in a sauté pan until foam has subsided. Sauté livers with the shallots for 2 to 3 minutes until livers are just stiffened but still rosy inside. Scrape into a blender or food processer.

Pour cognac or brandy into pan and boil down rapidly until it has reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Scrape into the blender or food processer. Add cream and seasonings. Cover and blend at top speed for several seconds until liver is a smooth paste. Add melted butter and blend several seconds more. Adjust seasoning. Pack into a bowl or jar, cover with wax paper, and chill for 2 to 3 hours. 

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