Trippa alla romana

Trippa alla romana (Roman-Style Tripe)

In Lazio, secondi piatti by Frank20 Comments

Tripe was once a common part of the Italian diet, and no where more so than Rome. The inhabitants of the Eternal City are famous for their love of offal, which they jocularly call the quinto quarto, or the ‘fifth fourth’, a butcher’s term for those humble parts of the animal that the nobility and clergy left for the common folk. Saturday was the traditional day in Rome and elsewhere in Italy to eat tripe—sabato trippa, the expression went—but the custom is, like so many old customs, fading fast. Indeed, organ meats in general are falling ever more out of favor, as elsewhere in the world.

It’s a sad story, if you ask me, but there’s a silver lining for those of us who still love the quinto quarto: unlike other humble cuts that have become fashionable like short ribs or oxtail, under-appreciated tripe is still very economical. And trippa alla romana, or Roman-Style tripe, is one of the most flavorful ways of enjoying trip that I know of. Here’s a somewhat updated version of that Roman classic.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 1 kilo (2 lbs) tripe, pre-cooked and cut into strips (see Notes)
  • 100g (3-1/2 oz) pancetta, cut into cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 dried red hot pepper (peperoncino) or a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • White wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 250-300g (1/2-2/3 lb) canned tomatoes, sieved, or passata di pomodoro
  • Olive oil (or lard)

To finish the dish:

  • A handful of mentuccia (Roman mint)—or other mint
  • Freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, q.b.

Directions

Start by sautéing the pancetta in olive oil (or lard) in a large pot, together with the peperoncino if using. (The traditional vessel for cooking tripe is a large terracotta pot, and using one does seem to give you extra depth of flavor.) Add onion, carrot and celery, and continue sautéing, seasoning with salt and pepper, until the vegetables are nice and soft. (Adding a tablespoon of water from time to time ensures that this soffritto will not brown.)

Add your pre-cooked tripe (see below), cut into bite-sized strips (along with a pinch of red pepper flakes if using those). Mix it all well, and allow to simmer so that the tripe begins to insaporire, or absorb the flavors of the soffritto.

Add a splash of white wine, and when it has evaporated, add crushed tomatoes. The more you add, the more saucy the dish will be. (Any excess sauce is absolutely wonderful over pasta!) Cover and simmer until the tripe is tender but still ever so slightly chewy and the sauce well reduced, about 30-45 minutes.

About 5 minutes before you are ready to serve the tripe, add a handful of mint.  Serve hot, topped with a generous grating of pecorino cheese.

Trippa alla romana

Notes on Trippa alla romana

The original recipe for trippa alla romana calls for simmering pre-cooked tripe in some sugo di carne for about a half hour. That was a recipe for when long-simmered meat sauces were also a part of weekly life. You made your meat sauce on Saturday, in advance of Sunday dinner, so it was easy enough to make some extra for simmering your tripe. This recipe allows you to make trippa alla romana as a stand-alone dish. The soffritto and pancetta make a savory base for your tomato sauce with a taste that mimics a traditional meat sauce but takes far less time. The finishing steps adding mint and pecorino are just the same either way. A local Roman mint called mentuccia gives the most authentic flavor, of course, but regular mint will do fine. And when I made this batch, I added that rather spicy Thai basil—iconoclastic but delicious.

You won’t find hot pepper in many recipes for trippa alla romana. Most, in fact, omit it but in our house we like the savoriness that it adds. Just don’t add so much that the dish actually becomes spicy, which isn’t characteristic of the dish. You need to handle a whole hot dried pepper differently from red pepper flakes, as indicated above. You add the whole pepper along with the pancetta at the beginning to brown. If you did that with the flakes, they’d burn and turn bitter; add them rather after you’re made your soffritto, along with the tripe.

In Italy, you can find tripe that has been almost entirely pre-cooked, so that you need only simmer it with the tomato sauce for, say, 30-45 minutes and it’s ready to eat. Here in the US, tripe can be hard to find. You can sometimes find tripe in Italian neighborhoods; Asian and Latino markets usually carry it as well. Tripe does usually come partially pre-cooked, but still needs considerable further cooking before you can use it for this dish. Pre-cooking also removes some of the ‘gamy’ flavor that tripe can sometimes have. Simmer the whole tripe in water to cover with an onion, garlic and a spring of parsley (you can add carrot and celery, too, if you like) for about an hour. Or more: some tripe you buy can take as long as 3 hours to cook, so ask your butcher or store assistant about it.

Trippa alla romana

As a traditional weekly feature of the Italian diet, there are a lot of traditional regional recipes for making tripe. In Milan, for example, where they call it buseca in local dialect, tripe are made with white beans called fagioli di Spagna and sage. In Sicily, tripe is combined with peas and in Piemonte with potatoes and leeks. And so on. And by the way, as a variation, you can add cannellini beans to your trippa alla romana. It’s a great combination, too.

Trippa alla romana (Roman-Style Tripe)

Rating: 51

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo (2 lbs) tripe, pre-cooked and cut into strips (see Notes)
  • 100g (3-1/2 oz) pancetta, cut into cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 dried red hot pepper (peperoncino) or a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • White wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 250-300g (1/2-2/3 lb) canned tomatoes, sieved, or passata di pomodoro
  • Olive oil (or lard)
  • To finish the dish:
  • A handful of mentuccia (Roman mint)—or other mint
  • Freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, q.b.

Directions

  1. Start by sautéing the pancetta in olive oil (or lard) in a large pot, together with the peperoncino if using. (The traditional vessel for cooking tripe is a large terracotta pot, and using one does seem to give you extra depth of flavor.) Add onion, carrot and celery, and continue sautéing, seasoning with salt and pepper, until the vegetables are nice and soft. (Adding a tablespoon of water from time to time ensures that this soffritto will not brown.)
  2. Add your pre-cooked tripe (see below), cut into bite-sized strips (along with a pinch of red pepper flakes if using those). Mix it all well, and allow to simmer so that the tripe begins to insaporire, or absorb the flavors of the soffritto.
  3. Add a splash of white wine, and when it has evaporated, add crushed tomatoes. The more you add, the more saucy the dish will be. (Any excess sauce is absolutely wonderful over pasta!) Cover and simmer until the tripe is tender but still ever so slightly chewy and the sauce well reduced, about 30-45 minutes.
  4. About 5 minutes before you are ready to serve the tripe, add a handful of mint. Serve hot, topped with a generous grating of pecorino cheese.

In Italy, you can find tripe that has been almost entirely pre-cooked, so that you need only simmer it with the tomato sauce for, say, 30-45 minutes and it’s ready to eat. Outside Italy, you can sometimes find pre-cooked tripe in Italian neighborhoods. Otherwise, tripe does usually come partially pre-cooked, but still needs considerable further cooking before you can use it for this dish. Pre-cooking also removes some of the ‘gamy’ flavor that tripe can sometimes have. Simmer the whole tripe in water to cover with an onion, garlic and a spring of parsley (you can add carrot and celery, too, if you like) for about an hour. Or more: some tripe you buy can take as long as 3 hours to cook, so ask your butcher or store assistant about it.

http://memoriediangelina.com/2014/10/31/trippa-alla-romana/

Comments

  1. I was having a ‘discussion’ with Karen of ‘Back Road Journal’ about tripe. Her husband likes it and she cooks it for him. Turns out her husband had an Italian mother… So now I understand. I looked up, just for fun, recipes for tripe – and your recipe was the 3rd or 4th one down.
    I LOVE your photograph of the finished dish and what you wrote about tripe. In fact, I’m going to go back so I can read the entire thing. ; o )

  2. Ciao Frank,

    Your recipe sounds great! I am going to make your dish and will let you know how it come out.

    Natale

  3. Ciao Frank, il tuo blog è molto ben fatto e trovo le tue ricette molto più autentiche di quelle di quelle pubblicate in molti siti italiani. Per questo mi permetto di correggerti, la mentuccia è per i carciofi, sulla trippa ci va la menta romana.
    Emilia

  4. Would like to actually know how to clean the tripe before cooking and to also see how using a slow cooker can be used. My mother would turn the tripe over and clean off (scrape) the whitish colored “skin” off with a knife before cutting into bit sized pieces and then making a light tomatoe type stew with potatoes. If using a crockpot, how long should I cook the tripe?

  5. Well Frank…I can see my husband drooling as we speak! I probably won’t “get around” to making this (not a fan of organs), except I did try his trippa in Italy a few years ago and it was good! But…the good news is it gives us a great reason to go back to Rome! And that said, do you have a favourite place for trippa???

    1. Author

      It’s made all over Rome. A good restaurant will serve good trippa. My favorite place to eat tripe in Rome was…my house… 😉

  6. My grandmother use to prepare dishes like this but I’m guessing if I did my family wouldn’t eat it. I think it looks wonderful and I’m sure if you made it, it is!

    1. Author

      Somewhere along the line, tripe and other offal became “controversial”. Never understood why… these old dishes really are wonderful. They deserve a comeback!

  7. Frank, my husband would gladly sit at your table and share a serving or two of your tripe. I on the other hand don’t care for its texture so my husband has to order it when he sees it on a restaurant menu. His mother used to make it for him and make something else for the two of us as she didn’t care for tripe either. Talk about a mother’s love for her son. 🙂

  8. My father was the one who made Trippa a la Fiorentina in our house. I was the only one of his kids who loved it! The last time I had trippa was 6 years ago when my dad had a craving for it and made a batch for us a couple of weeks before he passed away. Thank you for this post, it has brought back happy memories. I will try my hand at it this weekend!

    1. Author

      Always delighted to bring back fond memories. I hadn’t made tripe in a good long while, either, until writing this post. Do let us know how your came out!

  9. I am remembering organ meats as a child and the memory is not as stellar as others! I love the photos and everything in the recipe – except for the star. Wishing it was different. Feeling very mundane next to you. But pleased to read about – it’s history and how different regions make it!

    1. Author

      Well, organ meats are not for everybody, of course. But I do wish more people would give them a try! When made well, I find them perfectly delicious—but as they say, De gustibus non est disputandum.

  10. Another classic, beautifully done. You are a braver man than I, Frank Fariello. Organ meats are something that fell from my diet when I became “Adri the Picky Eater.” Before that I loved eating kidneys with my dad and liver with mom. In fact, some of my fondest and funniest childhood memories are of the drive to the butcher with one parent or the other, and the anticipation of delights to come as we unwrapped the goodies wrapped in the white butcher paper. Nothing, however was quite as much fun as watching my siblings scatter as we fried up the delights we had brought home. I was the only kid who enjoyed them. Tripe was not on either of my parents’ lists of favored foods, and so it never made it on to mine. One day when I was quite young, still in grammar school, I discovered that kidneys and liver were “organs”, and, is so often the way with kids, they were struck off never to pass my lips again. But I have to say that you have made tripe sound very alluring, and your photos are really beautiful. Also, in this time of great waste and our “throw away world” it is good to see you being such a thrifty and nose to tail kind of guy. Bravo!!

    1. Author

      Thanks, Adri! Very kind of you to say. I do believe is nose to tail eating, always have. I was the opposite of a picky eater when I was a kid. They used to call me The Human Vacuum Cleaner, lol!

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