Have you ever wondered what is tripe? If so you’re not alone. Tripe is considered a meat, typically from the cow’s stomach lining. It is very popular in Italian cuisine and other parts of the world. In this post we will not only discuss what it is, but how to cook it and use it in recipes.
What is Tripe
If anyone ever asks what tripe is, get ready to see them squirm when you tell them it is stomach lining from a cow. Most frequently known as beef tripe, it can also be from veal and lamb.
Tripe has a white spongy texture, and resembles a honeycomb pattern. It is most often used in flavorful soups and stews.
Here are some images of what this mysterious meat looks like. You can see the honeycomb patterns.
What is Beef Tripe
Cow or beef tripe comes from any of the three chambers: the rumen, reticulum, and omasum. In Italian cooking, beef tripe is the most common of all tripes used in their meals.
What is Trippa?
Trippa is the Italian word used for what we call Tripe. It is the same.
Trippa, pronounced “tree-pah” is very popular in Italian dishes, but more so in Italy vs here in the US, unless your someone who loves truly authentic Italian cuisine!
When I First ate Tripe in Italy
The first time I heard of trippa was in San Giovanni Incarico, Italy at my cousin’s house. No one spoke a word of English and all I had to go on was my English/Italian dictionary.
Sitting at a round table crowded with family, I was served some sausage which I ate. Following that I was served nice white spongy textured strips of something that I cut and started to eat.
After tasting the meat, I knew it was nothing I had eaten before and I knew instinctively that it was something that my own stomach was not ready to handle.
After using my Italian-American dictionary, I put two and two together and I learned I was eating Tripe, pronounced tree-pah. To soften any potential insult, I said in America we don’t eat this, followed by a ton of “Mi dispiace”. White lie? Well, in my family we never ate it.
Fortunately, word spread and it became something we had a good laugh about!
What is Tripe Used For
Tripe is used in many types of recipes such a stews, soups, or even served by itself.
Italian enjoy cooking it with onions and some form of tomato sauce. It can also be cooked with basic ingredients such as onion, butter, salt and pepper plus some Italian cheese when served.
Mexicans cook what is called menudo which is a hearty stew that uses tripe as an ingredient. Similarly, other cultures around the globe serve tripe as an common ingredient added to soups or stew with beans, tomatoes, stock, cabbage, potatoes and herbs.
Who Eats Tripe Today?
Tripe has been revitalized and is now being served in restaurants across the country.
Should we scoff at eating it? No, not at all. Consider lobster, snails, or even caviar, all food items once considered unfit for the upper class.
Many Italians especially during the WWII era, were too poor to purchase beef or other meats, but they could afford the tripe.
Today tripe is served in many cities such as New York City and is also making a comeback in the UK as described from this article back in April 2010 by telegraph.co.uk.
Dare I say, it’s even come to a super market near me.
How to Cook Beef Tripe
Cooking beef tripe is cooked no differently than any other type, whether lamb or veal. Here are some ways it is frequently cooked.
Beef tripe is not easy and quick to cook, so make sure to set aside at least half a day to dedicate to cooking. In general, it takes between two to four hours depending if it is already boiled partially (parboiled) or not.
Make sure to read the instructions on the packaging carefully to see if it is parboiled.
How Long to Cook Tripe
To know how long to cook tripe depends on the method you are using. We’ll explore these methods next.
How Long to Boil Tripe
If the tripe is purchased parboiled, you only need to boil it for about 2 hours at home. If it is not parboiled, then you need to boil it for at least 4 hours.
It should be boiled whole and sliced into short 1/2″ strips about 2″ in length only when done boiling, and should be easily pierced with a fork once it is done.
When using the boiled method, expect it to maintain a chewy texture regardless of how long you boil the meat.
How Long to Saute
If you plan on using the saute method, then first bring the pan in the saucepan up to a boil first then reduce to low. Then proceed with the recipe making sure the tripe is cooked thoroughly before serving..
Basic method for how to cook tripe in a sauce pan
Here are the steps needed for making a fairly simple recipe. This process is common across all culture.
Start by sauteing the tripe by adding it to a pan of hot cooking oil along with onion, celery and garlic.
After about 10 minutes add in 2-3 cups of stock and some tomato paste, or a can of tomatoes. Let it cook on low/simmer gently for about 3 hours making sure the sauce doesn’t become too thick.
Regardless if you choose to broil, boil, saute or fry, it should be easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife or a fork before serving.
It is possible to overcook, so make sure you check towards the end until your desired doneness is reached.
Recipe for How to Cook Tripe
When cooking tripe it is important that it must be cleaned thoroughly before you use it. If you are purchasing it from a butcher make sure to confirm that it is fully cleaned. Typically, it will already be boiled from the butcher shop if they are selling it.
Here is a recipe that you can prepare for people who do not know what tripe is.
Recipe for Boiling the Tripe
Start by boiling the tripe in water for two hours. Once cooked, cut it into strips and set aside. It can be cut length wise into approximately 1/2″ widths.
Saute with vegetables
Meanwhile in a large pan add chopped onions, bacon, celery and garlic and brown in some olive oil or butter.
Add tomatoes and beans
Once browned, add a can of tomatoes and cook until heated about 5 minutes. Then add back in the trip along with a cup of water and cook 30 minutes.
Add in some hearty vegetables or legumes such as beans along with some chopped potatoes which will help thicken the dish.
Add potatoes to the tripe
Cook for another 30 minutes over low to medium heat until potatoes are able to be pierced with a fork easily. Top with Romano or Parmesan Cheese. Serve warm.
I can see that Amazon has sellers that are trying to sell the book for over $100 which is nuts so I won’t bother linking to it. You might be able to find a used copy on Etsy or someplace else.
How to Serve Tripe?
Trippa can be served a variety of ways. But what do you serve it with?
Serve with Sausage
Tripe will go well with meats such as sausage as I had it in Italy. If served in a soup or broth I recommend serving with some Italian or artisan bread along with salad or even rice.
Serve with Pasta
You can also serve it atop a bed of pasta, this would be perfect for a roman style recipe which I’ve included in this post.
There are of course more ways to eat and serve tripe, as evidenced by the many cultures that use it more frequently in their dishes than we do.
I ran across this enjoyable article here by Susan Smillie of the guardian.co.uk Word of Mouth Blog. She took it to task to try and enjoy the not so lovely cow’s anatomy, only to find there was simply no way to make it palatable. I don’t feel so alone.
If you like meat-filled recipes you may want to check out some cookbooks on Amazon that should have some pretty cool and interesting recipes you can try in addition to the one I’m offering above.
For those who want to try, here’s a recipe from an old family cookbook I’d like to share that I’ve slightly adapted.
But please keep in mind, I’m not a fan of this type of meat, but given it’s uniqueness and the tradition in Italian cooking, I am glad to share this recipe with you.
Tripe: Roman Style
How to prepare trip Italian-Roman style
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 slices bacon chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1/2 clove garlic chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup water
- 2 lbs parboiled tripe cut into finger strips
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp chopped mint leaves optional
Place onion, bacon, parsley & garlic in frying pan over medium heat and brown slowly and thoroughly.
Add tomato paste and water and cook 10 minutes.
Add tripe, reduce heat to low and cook slowly 1 hour or until tripe is as tender as you desire
Add salt and pepper and if sauce is too thick add a little water.
Remove from pan, sprinkle with cheese and mint and serve.
This recipe is adapted and slightly modified from THe Talisman Italian Cookbook, 1972.
Where to Buy Tripe?
The best place will be from your local butcher for fresh tripe. I would recommend asking them if this is something they can supply you, already cleaned up for you. If they don’t, keep asking around.
Since it is used in multiple cuisines and not just Italian, this is something someone near you is bound to have.
I’ve seen on Amazon tripe supplements for digestive health, all I can do is point you there as I don’t use these for my own digestive health.
Can Dogs Eat Tripe?
If you’re looking for tripe for your dog (not kidding, it’s a common ingredient), check out Amazon, it seems lamb is popular.
Tripe is lovely cooked in an onion sauce with mashed potatoes
tripe is used in Menudo, a Mexican soup touted to be the best for hangovers
Hahah! I didnt’t know that! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing!
I am 90 years old and today is th first time since I came to the USA from Italy that I ate ‘tripe’. As we say in Sicily when you eat something you have not had for , let’s say two years, before you start to eat it, you say : I have lived two more years ( aiu campatu du anni). In my case, today I said: ‘aiu campatu settantacincu anni’ (I have lived 75 years!
It was well cooked and I enjoyed it. There is some leftover so I plan to eat it tomorrow
Thanks so much for commenting! I am glad you enjoyed your tripe!🙂
I’m Filipino-American….and absolutely LOVE a= Filipino dish called Karé Karé (car-EE car-EE). It’s stewed tripe and oxtails…stewed with ground peanuts (or peanut butter nowadays) and fish sauce…along with some vegetables. I don’t know how to make it–but my parents do–and so do all of my aunts. It’s my favorite Tripe dish! (I do love Mexican menudo, too)
My Czechoslovakian mother (my father was Irish) made a delicious tripe soup and my visiting Irish uncle loved it. It was basically only calves tripe as she said tripe from an older cow was too yellow and tough. It was cut into small pcs. and cooked in a white cream sauce with onions, salt & pepper. Of my two siblings, I was the only one who liked it.
Thank you for sharing!
The country that eats the most tripe, but which you don’t even mention, is China. Also tripe often comes from pigs.
Thank you for sharing!