A reader emailed me last week to see if I had a good recipe for menudo. I didnâ€™t. In fact, I have never cooked menudo until yesterday. Actually, it isnâ€™t one of my favorite dishes at all, although I have probably eaten a fair share of it in my lifetime at office canteens, school cafeterias, etc. It is that quintessential carinderia food, in that a little can go a mighty long wayâ€¦ the tiny dish per order is loaded with one spoonful of meat and potatoes and an excessive amount of sauce that you can then ladle over your rice to stretch your viand. Sometimes menudo is drier than wet, blacker than tan and ordinary versus pleasant. My objective was to create a menudo that I could learn to love and have at home a few times a yearâ€¦ I think I was generally successful on my first attempt.
To make, I boiled a piece of pork about 4 cups worth in some water with a bay leaf and some peppercorns. Skim the scum off the top of the boiling water. Once cooked and somewhat tender, remove the pork and cut into small cubes about Â¼ inch square or slightly larger. Save the pork broth. Menudo, by the way, refers to the cut or dice, meaning little/small things and is unlike the menudos from Mexico is a soup rich in tripe, hominy and chilliâ€¦ Next cut up some pork liver into similar sizes as the pork, adjusting for the fact that the liver will shrink once it hits the heat. Next prepare the other ingredients: 1 chopped white onion, several cloves of garlic chopped, a chopped red and green capsicum or sweet bell pepper, one chopped chorizo bilbao, a can of chickpeas or garbanzos, drained, one or two potatoes, cubed and some tomato paste, tomato sauce and sweet or spicy paprika.
To cook, heat up a heavy enameled pot, add some olive or vegetable oil and when hot, add the chopped onions and stir. Next add the garlic and stir until the aroma is wafting through your home. Next add the chorizo bilbao and stir again. Add the chopped pork liver and stir vigorously to cook the liver. Add the chopped capsicum or sweet bell peppers. Add the chopped pork, several cups of pork broth, salt and pepper liberally and stir to mix. Add several tablespoons of tomato paste, a cup or so of tomato sauce, the paprika, the garbanzos and potatoes and let this simmer/boil for about 10 minutes. If it appears to be getting too dry, add some pork broth or some water/tomato sauce. I tend to like mine a bit saucy but not overly so. If you want the sauce to thicken, take out about 1 cup and mash some potatoes and mix with the broth and return this all to the menudo in the pot. How did it taste? Terrific. I am not a fan of pork liver but it seemed tolerable in this dish. I might try this without the liver at all (I suppose that would be a different dish altogether) and I would let it stew longer. The chorizo and paprika are my additions in an effort to pump up the flavor and elevate the dish from basic to intermediate… and I think it worked rather well!