Rev 1.00, last revised: 09-Nov-08
This Menudo recipe comes from an old Mexican woman that lives in the mountains above Sonora. The secret behind this authentic old menudo recipe is that you cook each of the components separately. Then, when you're ready to eat, you combine and cook them together just before serving.
Menudo consists of: Tripe, Posole (Hominy), and Red Chili Sauce
Making the soup in discrete steps ensures that the flavors remain clear and separate, and the textures distinct. The longest cooking item is the tripe, so we'll begin with that.
Wash the tripe, trimming off excessive fat. Cut it into roughly one-inch squares. Drop into boiling water, simmer for a few minutes (2-3) and drain. Put back into pot and add the calf foot or pigs feet.
Cover well with water, and add remaining ingredients. Cook over very low heat for 2-3 hours, or until very tender. Drain, reserving liquid. Remove bones from feet.
Return feet and tripe to liquid, cool and reserve. Once cooled it will keep at least several days in the refrigerator. Both the tripe and the broth freeze well.
While the tripe is cooking, you can prepare the posole. Depending on your degree of planning ahead, you have three options:
The Traditional Way. You were thinking at least 2-days ahead and started with dried, white corn. You soaked it in lime water, rubbed the skins off, and washed it thoroughly when done. This is how it's done when you're making authentic Mexican Menudo. It requires both some hard work and a little planning ahead. But it will give you the most authentic tasting menudo.
You can use frozen Posole corn. This is much easier for planning purposes and will still yield a good tasting menudo.
You can use canned hominy corn. This will have to do if you can't find either dried corn or frozen Posole or don't have the time.
Wash thoroughly, drain, and pour the posole into a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a simmer and add the smashed garlic. Simmer gently until tender (~30 minutes).
When done, drain and discard the cooking liquid. Quickly cool and
refrigerate the posole if you're not going to finish the Menudo immediately.
NB: Warm posole ferments easily. It should be kept either very hot or very cold until cooked in with the Menudo. It should last several days in the refrigerator. Freezing is not recommended.
First roast the red chilies. Put the whole dried chilies on a hot dry griddle or frying pan and toss around a bit until they just barely begin to change color. Do this with care as the chilies will scorch easily.
Remove the chilies into a paper bag and let cool. Remove stems and most of the seeds. Place in a pan, cover with boiling water and let steep 15-20 minutes. Run through a food mill or a food processor, discard skins.
Return chili mixture to pan and add garlic, cumin seed, vinegar, oregano, salt, and sugar to the chili pulp.
Simmer over low heat for a 3-4 minutes. Cool and refrigerate. This classic Mexican Red Chili sauce is great with everything, not just menudo.
NB: You may want to make more chili sauce. The amount here should be enough for most folks, but won't be enough for true 'chiliphiles'...(;-o)!
Building your Menudo. At this point, you're ready to put all of the menudo ingredients together.
Place the tripe, tripe broth, corn, and chili sauce in a Dutch oven or heavy saucepan. Add water until you have the desired amount of liquid. This will vary on how you like your menudo. Some like it thicker than others.
Bring to a simmer over low heat and add garlic, vinegar, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the Menudo is warmed through, about 5 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and serve with hot, fire roasted corn or flour tortillas. Garnish with lime slices, chopped fresh cilantro, chopped onion, salt, hot chili peppers, and extra Red Chile Sauce.