Wednesday, October 12, 2011

MENUDO - "Viva La Vaquero Soupa"

 Menudo Soup

In every culture, local foods have their humble beginnings. Influenced by available ingredients and the ancestral heritage of a given community, food types once were limited too small regions.  Menudo is no exception.

The word coming from Latin meaning (Small, thin, vulgar or insignificant) is a spicy Mexican soup made with tripe, onions, tomatoes, chilies, and hominy.  Its wonderful aroma thickens as it is stewed. The broth is rich, red and glistens with fat, the soup arms the insides stimulating ones senses and helps clear the head. 

As the Vaquero's ran cattle from San Antonio De Bexar to New Orleans before Texas was a Republic, the cocineros “Cook” followed the horsemen in either by wagon or cart preparing meals at camp during these early cattle drives. Menudo could easily be stewed before the trip and reheated while on the trail. 
Today, Mexican descendants across the United States brag about the soups goodness.  The hot broth with its medicinal condiments, particularly the chili, replenishes vitamins A and C, soothes the stomach, and stimulates the gastric juices to overcome any loss of appetite. Often served in big open bowls, the steaming and fiery dish is usually eaten in the wee hours after a night out on the town and widely proclaimed to be an antidote for hangovers.


3     pounds tripe
3     pounds fresh nixtamal (hominy) not canned
3     pounds pigs feet cut into quarters or 1 calf's foot
1     large Onion cut in half  
3     large Chiles Anchos
1     bunch green onion cut up in 1/4" pieces
1/2 bunch of cilantro chopped
2     tablespoons Oregano
1     tablespoon black pepper
1     tablespoon red pepper flakes
1     head of garlic
2     tablespoons salt


Wash tripe thoroughly, remove excess fat and cut into bite sized pieces. Wash nixtamal and pigs feet or (calf foot) well.  Cut calf's foot into four pieces. Cut the tripe into small squares. Put them into the pan with enough water to cover. Add red pepper flakes, garlic, oregano, salt, black pepper and both halves of large onion.  Bring to a boil. Lower the temperature. Allow content to simmer uncovered for about 2 hours or until the tripe and foot become tender but not soft.  

Place chilies in a small skillet and toast. Once toasted, remove and open. Discard seeds and veins from the chiles, cut it into strips, and add to the meat while it is cooking.
If using calf foot, remove from pot and when cooled enough to handle, strip off the fleshy parts. Chop flesh and return them to the pan discarding the rest. 

Add hominy, chopped green onions, and cilantro. Continue cooking the Menudo slowly, still uncovered, for approximately another 2 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with tortillas, lime wedges and a dash of cilantro.

EL VAQUERO CAFE, Cotulla, Texas
Abel & Melissa Gonzalez own the family restaurant, "El Vaquero Cafe" located in Cotulla, Texas. While the cafe serves barbecue Brisket, Fajitas, Chicken, Sausage and Ribs, they also serve up the spice of Mexican traditions with Barbecoa, Huevos Rancheros and of course, Menudo. 

Annual Menudo Festivals are held across the nation. In Santa Maria, California, the festival is organized by the National Latino Peace Officers Association of Northern Santa Barbara County and the money raised goes toward the Robert Ramos Scholarship Fund.  “Viva! Cinco de Mayo” celebration held each year on the 5th of May in San Marcos, Texas holds Menudo competitions for bragging right. The dish is also a popular dish made to welcome in the New Year. 

return to recipes:
return to Chuck Wagons
return to cowboy and chuckwagon cooking:
Mexican Insurgents 1911 cooking
Early Vaquero Camp 

No comments:

Post a Comment