Mexican soul food

I defied convention this evening and marked our first really chilly day with a trip to my favorite Mexican grocery store — the little one attached to Las Americas taqueria on Third Street — to pick up a pound of tripe and a can of hominy so I could try my hand at making menudo.

I’d eaten menudo once at a restaurant here in town. The owner happened to be sitting nearby and struck up a conversation, in which I learned that menudo — like most Mexican food — lends itself well to improvisation.

I love to improvise in the kitchen, and I was pretty happy with the results of my first riff on menudo. Here’s the recipe, in case you’re interested:

A little bacon grease
One white onion, sliced
Six cayenne peppers, chopped (OK to substitute a different kind — cayenne was just what I had in the garden)
Two cloves of elephant garlic, chopped
About a pound of tripe
About a pound of calves’ feet
Cumin to taste
Chili powder to taste
Black pepper to taste
Dried oregano
Big can of hominy

Saute onion in bacon grease (OK to use butter instead). Add peppers and garlic and cook for a few seconds. Cut tripe into bite-sized pieces and add it to the pan, along with the feet and a couple of quarts of water. Stir in spices and simmer for an hour or so. Add hominy and simmer another hour. Serve with hot sauce, lime wedges, and warm tortillas. Makes a nice way to warm up on a chilly night.

Hope you’re staying warm and dry on this cold, rainy evening.

Emily