It seems many of us have lost our taste for “variety meats” these days. It wasn’t that long ago—as I remember, well into my young adulthood—that you could find fresh veal and chicken liver, kidneys, tongue and yes, tripe in more or less any supermarket. Now you have to search them out and, if you do find them, they’ll be frozen. For fresh variety meats, chances are you’ll need to go to an Asian or Latino market.
Tripe in particular is well worth the search, I think. If you have any qualms about this kind of eating, know that tripe has a much milder flavor than other variety meats. Indeed, tripe can be very mild depending on what type you’re talking about (see Notes below). And it’s low in calories, yet packed with protein and all sorts of vitamins and minerals.
Traditional Italian cookery has a wide variety of tripe recipes. Each region, it seems, has its own way of preparing it. We’ve already featured trippa alla romana, Roman style tripe, as well as buseca, the hearty Milanese tripe and bean stew, as well as trippa con patate, tripe and potatoes.
Today we’re going to look at perhaps the simplest way to make tripe in the Italian repertoire, trippa alla fiorentina, Tripe in the Florentine style. Pre-cooked tripe is simmered in tomato sauce, then served topped with grated parmigiano-reggiano. Simple, yes, like much Tuscan cookery, but for tripe-lovers like myself, very appealing. If you have misgivings about tripe but are willing to give it a try, this might be the place to start.
- 1 kilo (2 lbs) pre-cooked tripe, cut into thin strips (see Notes)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- 800g (28 oz) aka one large small can, peeled tomatoes
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
Chop the onion, carrot and celery together finely into a near paste. (A food processor makes short work of this, but a sharp knife and cutting board will do quite nicely as well.)
In a pot, preferably made of terracotta or enameled cast iron, sauté the onion, carrot and celery in abundant olive oil, along with a pinch of salt, over a gentle flame until tender.
Turn up the heat a bit and add the tripe strips and given them a good stir to coat them with the scented oil and aromatic vegetables. Let the tripe simmer over moderate heat for 5 minutes or so.
Add the tomatoes, which you will have either crushed with your hands or passed through a food mill, and stir again. Lower the heat, cover the pot partially, and let the tripe and tomatoes simmer until the tripe is tender and the sauce has nicely reduced. The total cooking time will depend on how fully the pre-cooked tripe is, as little as 30-45 minutes or as long as 2 hours.
If things are drying out, add a bit of water. Conversely, if the tripe is tender but the sauce a bit thin, uncover the pot and raise the heat so the sauce can reduce.
Serve your trippa alla fiorentina with a nice topping of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.
Notes on Trippa alla fiorentina
In its raw state, tripe is extremely tough, needing multiple hours of cooking. Back in the day, people would tenderize the tripe by striking it against a rock, which must have been a colorful sight! These days, tripe is invariably sold precooked. In Italy, tripe is generally sold almost entirely pre-cooked. It only needs a further 30 minutes or so of cooking until it’s tender. In this country, it’s hard to know. Some tripe is quite tender, as it would be in Italy. But it can also needs up to several hours’ cooking.
To avoid any doubt, I usually precook my tripe in amply salted water, together with some aromatic vegetables, for an hour or two. Or even better, in the pressure cooker for at least a half hour on high pressure. Otherwise, as indicated above, you can just keep simmering your tripe until it’s tender, adding water from time to time as needed.
Types of tripe
If you’ve eaten tripe at all, you will probably have had “honeycomb” tripe. It’s by far the commonest tripe sold in this country. But tripe actually comes in four different types, all of which are edible. They correspond to the four chambers of a cow’s digestive track: three “pre-stomachs”—rumen, reticulum and omasum—and the actual stomach of the cow, the abomasum. Here’s a picture to illustrate:
You can certainly make trippa alla fiorentina with honeycomb tripe, which comes from the reticulum. Most recipes I’ve seen, however, call for mixture of rumen (called croce in Italian) and the omasum (called centopelle). I was lucky enough to find omasum tripe at local Asian supermarket to make my trippa. If you frequent dim sum restaurants, you may have encountered it, steamed with ginger and scallion. I’m actually surprised it’s not more popular. It is much more delicate in texture and less”gamey” in taste than the honeycomb. If you’re at all squeamish about tripe, you might want to try omasum. It might change your mind.
A good number of recipes for trippa alla fiorentina call for adding a splash of white to the pot, either to the soffritto right before the tripe or right after the tripe . Other recipes suggest adding broth to simmer along with the trip. The august Accademia italiana della cucina (Italian Academy of Cuisine), however, in its encyclopedic La cucina del Belpaese, published in English as La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy, warns against both:
True Trippa alla fiorentina wants neither wine nor broth nor long and exhausting cooking. The only variation permitted is the addition of a carrot and a little chopped celery.
The Accademia also recommends a simple onion soffritto. As mentioned above, they will allow for carrot and celery if you insist. (And I do.) These culinary dons also allow for garlic and parsley. In that case, you’ll have made Trippa alla livornese, named after the Tuscan port town of Livorno.
The amount of tomato varies from recipe to recipe, as well. I thought this amount, which produces quite a “red” dish, was fine, but some recipes call for half this amount.
And another well known cookbook, Le ricette regionali italiane, suggests gratinéeing your trippa, topped with grated cheese and drizzled with olive oil, under the broiler (aka grill) for a few minutes before serving. Sounds nice to me.
Trippa alla fiorentina is not to be confused with lampredotto another, perhaps better known, Florentine tripe dish made with the abomasum. Slow cooked with aromatic herbs and vegetables but no tomato, lampredotto is served as a sandwich. It’s a common street-food in Florence and a staple of travel food shows like this episode of Bizarre Foods.
Trippa alla fiorentina
- 1 kilo 2 lbs 1 kilo (2 lbs) pre-cooked tripe cut into thin strips
- 1 medium onion
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 small stalk celery
- 800g 28 oz peeled tomatoes aka one large small can,
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
To finish the dish:
- freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
- Chop the onion, carrot and celery together finely into a near paste. (A food processor makes short work of this, but a sharp knife and cutting board will do quite nicely as well.)
- In a pot, preferably made of terracotta or enameled cast iron, sauté the onion, carrot and celery in abundant olive oil, along with a pinch of salt, over a gentle flame until tender.
- Turn up the heat a bit and add the tripe strips and given them a good stir to coat them with the scented oil and aromatic vegetables. Let the tripe simmer over moderate heat for 5 minutes or so.
- Add the tomatoes, which you will have either crushed with your hands or passed through a food mill, and stir again. Lower the heat, cover the pot partially, and let the tripe and tomatoes simmer until the tripe is tender and the sauce has nicely reduced. The total cooking time will depend on how fully the pre-cooked tripe is, as little as 30-45 minutes or as long as 2 hours.
- If things are drying out, add a bit of water. Conversely, if the tripe is tender but the sauce a bit thin, uncover the pot and raise the heat so the sauce can reduce.
- Serve your trippa alla fiorentina with a nice topping of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.
OMG! Tripe! Iused to make it very often. Both the honeycomb and the stomach. i loved it so. i haven’t had it in probably 40 years. Makes me hungry to think about it. We had steak and kidney stew for supper. I crockpotted(Is this a word?) It while we were in Duke for a doctors appointment today. We had a feast tonight!
Sounds delicious, Sharon! Nice to meet another tripe lover. 🙂
You are really tempting me to try making tripe. I loved it when my mum made it. She passed away when I was very young and so did her recipe. But your selection of tripe recipes look as good as hers. Thank you!
And thank you for your kind words, Marcellina!
Frank – my mother used to make tripe when I was young, and it wasn’t gamey at all, but it’s not something I search out. It’s so different when I’m in Italy and it’s on menus everywhere, especially in Rome and Naples, where entire tripperia are to be found. When we lived in Rome, my dad came to visit for three weeks, and he was in his glory any time he saw tripe on restaurant menus.
Isn’t it funny how your environment can shape so thoroughly what one thinks of as “normal”? Tripe was almost a weekly dish for us when we lived in Rome. In fact, they had a saying, as you probably know, “Sabato trippa”, and it was as tradition as fish on Fridays.
Trippe! What a feast! I used to have them often as a child and they were delicious. These days it is hard to find them (I live in the UK) and I usually have them when I go back to Italy (mostly in winter). Thank you for bringing back beautiful memories!
Hard to find here, too, as I mentioned. Such a shame. Have you tried “ethnic” markets over there? That’s where you need to go on this side of the pond.
I haven’t had tripe in years, the Hungarians cook it in a similar fashion. My Mom always used the honeycomb tripe, I used to adore the texture. I’ll have to order it next time I’m in Italy, it’s not something my husband would probably eat.
Yes, tripe is a “controversial” cut for some reason. I’m sure you’re not the only one contending with a picky spouse… 😉
As I mentioned on Instagram, we are lucky to be able to get tripe easily here in Tucson. Love all the Latino markets here! Mark and I will be making this. We are about to hit our 25th anniversary, so this might be the right dish to celebrate, as we always having it when we are in Tuscany.
Congrats, David! And hope you enjoy the dish.
Thank you for this! I had trippa alla fiorentina once, in Florence (on my first and only trip to Italy), and it was excellent. Can’t wait to try making it at home.
Hope you like it, Christine!
Frank, I grew up eating menudo. My great grandmother made it from tripe and cow’s feet (good for the hangover they say) so your Trippa alla fiorentina would be very welcome on our table. Tripe is quite common here as we have a large Balkin population in our area that uses it to make tripe chorba, which is also said to be good for the hangover.
I look forward to giving this a try…
Excellent, Ron! Let us know how you like it. Did you even notice how so many “unusual” foods are said to be good for hangovers? I wonder what that’s about.
I know what you mean about variety meats. Veal is delicious, but I can understand the objections to it. In fact, I have to agree with them. Aside from that, I love to make pate out of chicken livers, but I cannot find them in the stores I most often frequent. I have to go to a grocery that caters more to … I don’t know … more of an old-school shopper, to find them. Tripe is something that I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever had!
Yep, that’s me, an old school shopper. Or so it seems, so many items I used to think as common have fallen by the wayside. Tripe is definitely worth a try if you haven’t had it. Probably the most “approachable” of the variety meats, at least if people would try it. The taste is quite mild and, for me at least, quite appealing.
That looks delicious – people need to get out of the supermarket and go back to the butcher!
Interestingly, octopus was also tenderised by beating it against the rocks, before people discovered that freezing did the job without the hard work.
Totally agree about getting back to the butcher. Although sadly, in many parts of this country (US) there are quite literally no butchers left. In my area, I have to drive 20 minutes to get to the closest one! Funny thing about that rock beating business. Makes sense it would work for octopus, too.
Oh Frank – tripe is one of my very favourite dishes to eat next to calves tongue ! I try to prepare it at least monthly and, these days, do have to get it from the local butcher ! OK . . .I have had it your way and shall make it thus next time around – for me usually it is a long slow cook with good red wine and lots of aromats: the house is full of delightful aromas all day 🙂 ! The honeycomb variant is the main one I can regularly buy here. It is so easy to prepare and such a glorious meal ! That does not mean a tongue is not regularly boiled both for a delightful repast and lots of sandwiches . . . or that kidneys and sweetbreads are not forever on the table . . . actually steaks and chops I find quite ‘boring’ next to these . . . Thanks !
I love calves tongue, too. It’s been a long time since I’ve had sweetbreads—they’re even more difficult to find around here—but they’re one of my very favorite things to eat. I totally agree that limiting yourself to steaks and chops day in and day out really is boring.
I must admit, the smell of tripe puts me off more than the visual/mental part. I banned my mother from ever cooking it in my kitchen after the last time she made it! Haha! I never knew about the tripe being tenderized against a rock! I always learn something new on your recipes! 🙂
Yes, that must have been quite a sight… 🙂
I grew up eating this, but have never attempted to cook it myself. I remember how we had to watch the pressure cooker for my grandfather. I was scared to death that thing was going to blow up! Today, I have an electric pressure cooker that I love and use frequently. I will definitely use it for this recipe if I can find the tripe. My husband will be so surprised! He is from San Bartolomeo, Italy and I have made many of your recipes for him and he has loved them all! They are not the run-of-the-mill Italian recipes you see everywhere else and they are so authentic. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful recipes with us!
I have an electric pressure cooker, too, and I love it. And it’s perfect for this recipe. I do hope you try this out and let me know how your better half likes it. Thanks so much for the kind words, they mean a lot to me. —Happy cooking, Frank
Fabulous information! I’ve never bought it in any form and have thus never cooked it. This will be a perfect way to get initiated. Thanks!
Knowing a little about your tastes, Mimi, I think you’d like it… worth a try, anyway!
You’re right that tripe has disappeared from the fresh meat case in most supermarkets. I do see it in the frozen section or, as you suggest, in Asian markets. And I’m pretty sure a butcher I sometimes frequent has it (he only orders whole carcasses, then breaks them down himself into retail cuts). And I haven’t cooked tripe myself for at least 30 years (last time I did was in a Mexican soup as I recall). And I’ve never had it in an Italian dish. And I’ve only had the honeycomb variety, as best I know. So there was a lot for me to learn in this post! Really excellently written, and so interesting. Really good recipe, too. 🙂 Thanks!
I do like that Mexican soup (I think it’s called menudo?) And thanks for the kind words, John!
You make an excellent point about the availability of tripe and other variety meats. I shop a lot of meat markets (mmm…meat), but I don’t see much in this category. It can be found as you noted, but just not common. I have to admit, though, that tripe isn’t my favorite. It’s probably because we didn’t make it growing up. I had to laugh at the thought of striking it against a rock though – crazy!! While this recipe probably isn’t for me, I did appreciate learning more about it as well as how it’s prepared. Thanks for that – and I hope you have a great weekend, my friend!
Thanks for stopping by, David. Tripe is an acquired taste for many but once you do acquire it…
Thank you very, very much for this recipe and the added information regarding tripe. My mother was from Naples and we used to eat it when my grandparents from Salerno and Palermo came over. But as we grew up we didn’t have it anymore. I was reintroduced to it in Florence (I couldn’t believe the tripe sandwiches!!!!) and Naples (my cousin made a beautiful cold tripe vinagarette (?) – I have never found a recipe for it but it knocked me out!!!) on my travels and in Madrid. I really love it – and ALL of the recipes you send me – Thank you, so much again!!!!
And thank you so much, David, for the kind words! And yes. there is indeed a Neapolitan tripe salad. Thanks for the reminder, I should blog on it some time!