Honestly, what’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “callos”? Most people probably think of food, but for me, oddly, it’s a callus or literally a “corn” on the ball of my feet that immediately comes to mind. :) Sorry, didn’t mean to gross you out in a food post. But with some of the biggest and flattest feet in the country, my Dad and most of his kids (that’s me and my siblings) are prone to these bizarrely hard and sometimes painful “corns”. But the word “callus” derived from the word “callos” or the other way around seems makes sense. What I can’t figure out is why the Spanish term for tripe is callos? Trippe and tripe in Italian and French, it’s odd to me how the Spanish ended up with callos… is it because there are parts of the tripe that are hardened? But most of it is kinda gelatinously soft after hours of boiling (I guess my corns would be too)… I don’t know the answer to my own question, but if you do, please chime in why callos (tripe) are indeed called callos (calluses). Thanks. :)
The last two times I did posts on callos, here and here, reader interest was high. So when I had a hankering for callos last week, I decided to search for a slightly less involved, somewhat “shortcutish” type of recipe to follow. The first two times I posted about cooking callos, it took me hours and hours and hours to achieve the softness and consistency I wanted, and I was hoping there might be a way to do that in less time… A recipe by Mario Batali in one of his cookbooks looked intriguing, I think it was called “Trippa alla Parmigiana” and it seemed fairly easy to do… so that was my starting point, though I changed a few of the ingredients…
First, prepare the tripe. Let me say, I have tried Mr. Batali’s tricks for softening octopus and other things and they turned out horribly. So this was the last time I was going to give the supposed shortcuts a try, but it worked quite well, so there… Take the tripe and wash it well. Stick it in a heavy pot covered with water, and add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar and a tablespoon of vanilla extract. The vanilla was supposed to help neutralize the “funky” smell that tripe can sometimes have. I wouldn’t add the vanilla again. Did this several days later with just the vinegar and that worked just fine, without the added odd flavor and aroma of vanilla marring the savory taste experience.
Cook the tripe at a gentle simmer for about just an hour, until softened, but not really soft. Then turn off the heat and let the tripe cool in the cooking liquid. Refrigerate overnight. The last time I made tripe, the boiling process took me hours and hours, so I was indeed sceptical about this relatively short cooking period, but it did seem to work for the first batch I made. It was a little less successful for the second batch… so the best counsel I can give is keep checking the tripe and turn off the heat when a majority of the tripe is relatively soft. Chef Batali does say you CAN overcook tripe, which was a surprise to me…
Take the tripe out of the fridge, slice it into strips and set aside. Do not throw out the liquid it was cooked in. In a heavy enameled pot, saute some chopped onions, celery (I added fennel bulbs), garlic and carrot strips (odd) and saute for 10-12 minutes until softened and slightly caramelized. Degralze with a couple of cups of white wine, add some chopped canned tomatoes or passatta, I added in sliced bell peppers (which gave it sweetness) and let this simmer for say 20-30 minutes until thickened. Add a cup or two of the cooking liquid to keep the sauce loose and not too thick. Then add in the callos or tripe and let this simmer for 30-45 minutes until the flavors have melded together. Season this with salt and pepper of course. The tripe is actually best enjoyed the following day, I find, but if you can’t wait, just ladle some of the tripe into a ceramic cazuela or similar serving dish, and top it with lots and lots of grated parmiggiano reggiano or parmesan cheese and enjoy! Honestly, I found the abundance of carrots in the recipe to be a less than pleasant diversion, I would put a lot less the next time, or even replace with chickpeas or garbanzos instead.
The following day, I played with the leftovers and sauteed some sliced chorizo bilbao and added in the callos and stirred for a minute or two. Then I placed the mixture into a small cazuela. Meanwhile, I prepared a bread crumb and herb topping by blitzing some good bread (no rind) with lots of flat leaf parsley and parmesan cheese (isn’t it an interesting nuclear green color?) and sprinkled this on top of the callos mixture.
Cover the surface of the callos generously, even MORE generously than the photo above if you like the idea of the dryish, flavorful crunch before the soft, stewy interior of callos, tomatoes and vegetables. :)
Stick this under the broiler in your oven for a few minutes until the breadcrumb mixture browns just slightly. Serve immediately. I liked this version better than the one just topped with parmesan. Overall, this was delicious enough so that I would do it again, but without the vanilla. If you have the time to do the really long slow cooked version of callos I featured before, that would still be the ideal. But if you are into shortcuts, this is one I could live with. :)