This is a recipe that all started a few weeks ago when visiting the tapas bar Sr. Guilho and had a delicious “callos”, a tripe stew cooked with chickpeas and chorizo, rich with smokey tones from the tender chorizo and pimenton. It tasted more or less the way it did when I had it in Spain last summer, when hitchhiking with Nora from Bordeaux, France back to Lisbon. The many stories of that trip I’ll save for some other time (or for a book, who knows), but what I love about tripe is, once you get over the idea of eating animal intestines and the pungent smell when you cook it, is the beautiful gelatinous quality of the meat itself, tender and full of flavour when cooked right.
I’ve adapted the recipe here and there from the original Spanish one, because “a recipe should be a tune to which you can sing your own song”, to quote Rick Stein. My version turned out quite light with carrots, white wine and chicken stock and fresh chickpeas for some extra texture. Whenever I cook it, I always invite friends over to share it with because this is a dish that tastes best eaten from a big earthenware bowl in the middle of the table with some good red wine, crusty bread and everybody diving in. Plus, organ meat is not gross, it’s actually good for you and by eating as much of it as possible, it’s your way of paying respect to the animal that died for your sins. In other words: being a vegan or vegetarian is not a problem, being a meat eating hypocrite kind of is (unless you really don’t like the texture of tripe, in which case you are forgiven).
24 hours to soak the chickpeas, 3,5 hours to cook the tripe and everything else or 1,5 hours if you’ve got a pressure cooker
Olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
250 grams of dry chickpeas
1 kilo of tripe (preferably cleaned and purified)
120 ml of vinegar (optional, in case your tripe isn’t cleaned or purified)
6 bay leaves
6 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
1 good quality chorizo sausage for stewing
1 generous glass of white wine
1 litre of good quality chicken stock (homemade if possible)
- First of all, you have to soak the chickpeas overnight in a covered bowl. Make sure the amount of water is about double as high as the chickpeas as they will double in size. You could use chickpeas out of a can, but you’ll never get the same pleasing al dente texture which gives this dish a very necessary bite.
- Next, you have to prepare the tripe. Ask your butcher to make sure that your tripe is cleaned and ready to cook. If you can’t get your hands on clean tripe, you’ll have to purify it by first removing excess fat from the side opposite the honeycomb which is whiter than the creamy color of the tripe. Then you rub and scrub the tripe thoroughly all over with course sea salt. Rinse several times with water, place in a dish and pour the vinegar over it. Let stand for 30 minutes and then rinse well. Congratulations, now your tripe is ready for cooking!
- From here, it’s long but easy sailing: cook your tripe, covered in water with 3 bay leaves and 2 crushed garlic cloves. You can cook it in a pressure cooker for half an hour or simmer it for three hours in a normal pan on medium heat. It should be tender and soft, if it isn’t yet, cook it a bit more but make sure it still got a bit of a bite to it so it doesn’t fall apart by the time you get to the end of the dish. Always make sure your tripe is continuously covered in water when cooked. When cooked, drain, remove bay leaves and garlic, let cool and cut into strips of 4 cm. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit irregularly shaped, this is rural cooking and adds to the charm.
- With regards to the chickpeas: drain and wash them thoroughly. To facilitate digestion, first cook them for 10 minutes, pour out the water and add new water and cook for another 30 minutes until al dente (be aware that chickpeas you’ve had laying around in your cupboard will have to cook longer), drain and set aside. Now you’re ready to put the recipe together.
- Roughly chop up your onion, peel and chop up your carrot into the same size (it doesn’t have to be fine, you want it to be chunky and rustic) and sweat in a big pot on a medium heat in olive oil. Add a bit of salt to help the onion break down and release its sweetness. In the meantime, chop up the garlic quite finely and when the onions are translucent, add your garlic and stir. Let cook for about 4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, rinse the chorizo under cold water, put the tip of your knife under the skin, tear it off and cut into bite-size chunks. Add the chorizo and stir until the chorizo starts to release its deep red color.
- Add paprika powder, the three remaining bay leaves, stir and let fry for another minute or so to allow the paprika to “wake up”.
- Next, add your glass of wine and let it simmer for five minutes until your wine has reduced by half. This is when you add your chickpeas, tripe and chicken stock. With the lid off, let the stew simmer on a low heat, stirring every once in a while, and let reduce until the whole dish has transformed from a watery soup to a thick, unctuous stew. This should take about 30 minutes.
- Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you love paprika as much as I do, you probably won’t be able to resist adding just a bit more before you serve it in your most beautiful earthenware dish with some crusty bread in the middle of the table and let everyone dig in.