MENUDO ROJO — From Peasant Food to a Mexican Classic

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A traditional Mexican dish, menudo rojo is a spicy soup made with beef tripe. You either love it or hate it. Luckily, I grew up loving the red menudo my mom would make. I guess people are thrown off with the tripe ingredient. Makes them a little leery about the soup. Making homemade menudo in my family typically signifies a major celebration, whether it be a wedding, baptism, or to ring in the New Year. To me it also signified love. This year, I plan to make several batches and invite family and friends over to share in the love, especially after some of the bigger celebrations. Did I mention it is also good medicine for the crudo (hangover)?

Reading up on menudo I learned its roots are firmly planted in peasant food heritage and poverty. In pre-revolution Mexico, poverty among the campesinos was chronic and little if anything that might be prepared as food was left to waste. Usually, the best cuts of meat would go to the hacienda owners while the offal went to the poor workers. These leftovers consisted of organ meats, brains, head, tails, hooves, etc. Inventive peasant cooks created a soup that made good use of one of the major leftovers — the stomach. As cattle and sheep are ruminants that require lengthy intestinal tracts to digest their diet of grasses and raw seeds, the stomach is one of the largest pieces of offal available from these animals.

Be warned. Like tamales, making menudo is time and labor intensive as the tripe takes hours to cook (or else it is extremely tough). I will typically start the evening before by cleaning and soaking the tripe. I can then place the tripe in a large stock pot and allow it to simmer all night long before adding any of the red chile sauce. A special note on my menudo recipe, besides making my own red chile I throw in a can of Las Palmas red chile sauce for good measure. I can already hear cooks scream blasphemy! You really don’t need it. I just remember my mom adding it to her menudo broth. I prefer a thicker menudo broth so the Las Palmas and added chicken stock rounds it out with a more robust flavor. Also, be generous with the oregano. Like any good soup, continue to taste along the way to make sure it has enough flavor.

Menudo 1

Ingredients:

8 pounds honeycomb tripe, rinsed well and cut into 1-inch squares
5 pounds of beef tripe, rinsed well and fat trimmed
2 pounds of beef feet (patas), quartered
3 large yellow onion, diced
3 small heads of garlic, unpeeled, for broth
3 cloves garlic, peeled for red sauce
16 peppercorns
5 tablespoons of kosher salt, or to taste
5 teaspoons of Mexican oregano, dried
2 bay leafs
15 quarts water

For the Red Chile Sauce
4 dried Arbol chiles
10 dried guajillo chiles
2 cups of chicken stock
2 cans (6 pounds 9 oz) of white hominy, drained
3 tablespoons of ground cumin
*Optional: 1 (28 oz) can of Las Palmas Red Chile sauce. I add this to round out the flavor of the chile after it has been blended and pushed through a sieve.

To serve:

Dried oregano
Red chile powder flakes
Limes and lemons, quartered
Chopped onions
Chopped cilantro
Corn tortillas
Butter

DIRECTIONS:

Cleaning and Soaking the Tripe

Cleaning the tripe

Soaking the tripe
Whether you are buying honeycomb tripe or another type of beef tripe, you want to take the time to trim away the fat. No one likes a greasy or foul-smelling menudo. After you trim the fat, cut the tripe into one-inch pieces and place in a large stock pot of water to soak for two hours, changing the water out at the one hour mark.

Making the Red Chile

Pushing chile through sieve

Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and toast on a dry skillet for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Pour enough water to cover, and allow to simmer at a low heat, soaking the chiles. Add one onion, halved and 3 cloves of peeled garlic. Allow to simmer for a good half hour. Remove the soaking chiles, onion and garlic from the water and place in a blender along with the cumin. Ladle about a cup of the simmering broth from the pot into the blender, and puree until very smooth. Add additional broth if necessary. Push chile sauce through a sieve into a medium-sized bowl to remove seeds and any skin. Discard solids. Reserve chile sauce in the refrigerator until it is time to add to the menudo broth.

Cooking the Menudo
Menudo 2

Place the tripe, pigs feet, onion, unpeeled garlic, peppercorns, salt, oregano, and water in a large stockpot or soup pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the tripe and pigs feet are tender but not too soft. Remove the unpeeled garlic.

Add the hominy and pour chile puree, plus the can of Las Palmas Red Chile Sauce and chicken stock into the simmering pot and stir. Allow to cook for about 3 hours (or more) on a low simmer. Season with additional salt to taste.

Serving the Menudo

Serve in large bowls, with dried oregano, cut-up lime wedges, diced onions, chopped cilantro, and warm tortillas smothered with butter at the table for each guest to customize their own bowl.

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41 Comments

  1. I grew up eating menudo (along with a tripe Italian dish). I make a batch of tripe and freeze it in batches so I can make either dish as I want. Of course nobody else eats it but I can’t tell you the number of times the butcher has requested a sample since not many folks use tripe. It’s ironic that it no longer is a cheap cut of meat.

  2. Great recipe Stephen,!
    In my preparation I like to use a blend of dried chili’s for my Red Chili Sauce, (New Mexico, California, Guajillo) any combination of these from whatever is in my pantry,,, Lol 🙂 I love these flavors.
    And I’m one of those Eeeaking at the can of red sauce, Blasphemy! Lol.
    And you did mean to say BEEF Feet instead of Pigs Feet noted below the last picture under Cooking the Menudo, Correct?
    Buen Provecho!!! 😉

    • Stephen Chavez

      Armando — Thanks for the note! I also love to combine all of those chiles, including arbol for the heat. I use beef and pig feet, whichever happens to be available in the carniceria. More typical here in So Cal are the pigs’ feet. Buen Provecho, mi foodie amigo.

      – Stephen

  3. That’s weird I don’t make menduo nothing like that I’m not trying to talk mess but my family loves when I sell it they love hmm that’s weird some ppl like others way this a new one I will try it some day

    • How do you make yours? thanks, happy new year.

      • Stephen Chavez

        Randy, please find our menudo recipe here on the blog. In the Search section, type in Menudo Rojo and it will come up. Good luck! I am going shopping today for our menudo ingredients to make for New Year’s Eve.

        • I am making menudo right now as we speak. hehe. I was born and raised in San Antonio TX and now live in Florida. My husband does not like the actual Tripe but loves the rest of the ingredients and broth. So, I now make something I call A Fusion of Menudo and Posole. I make the menudo (with less amount of tripe, mostly for flavor) and add pork chunks. My husband loves the broth, hominy, patas and pork. I also add some masa harina to thicken the soup a bit.

          Also, I prepare the chili ancho (or whatever chile you want to use) ahead of time and freeze so that it is ready when I need it for whatever dish I want to prepare (pork rogue and enchilada sauce.

          Also, I don’t like the smell of the menudo cooking/boiling, so I add some chile ancho and spices to quell the smell.

          Glad I fund your blog.

          • Stephen Chavez

            I love your idea for a fusion of Menudo and Posole. We have to give that a try one day soon. Glad you found our blog. Happy cooking!!
            Stephen & Art
            LatinoFoodie

  4. Can you clarify the amount of hominy, is it 2 cans totaling 6.5 pounds or totaling 13 pounds?

    • Stephen Chavez

      Sorry for the confusion. Thank you for the question. It is a total of 13 pounds (two large cans of white hominy about 6 1/2 pounds each). Hope this helps.

  5. So glad I found your post, your recipe is the closest that I can come to the way my family makes it. I am hoping to make this for them sometime soon. My mom & tia are both elderly and no one else makes menudo or tamales so I am hoping to learn and carry on family traditions. Am I able to cook/boil the patas in a separate pot to release any fat before adding to the soup with the other ingredients? If so, how long do I cook them before adding? Your post made me smile just remembering childhood memories. Thanks so much! Happy Easter 🙂

    • Stephen Chavez

      Hi Terri — Glad to hear you enjoyed the menudo post. I haven’t cooked the patas in a separate pot before, but I wouldn’t see why not. I would only caution that it is some of the fat that gives flavor to the broth. You can always skim any fat/oil from the top of the menudo if you feel there is too much. Otherwise, I would boil them in a separate pot for about 30 minutes to remove most of the fat. Good luck!!! Let us know how it comes out.

      • hey terri LOL i do the same thing with my pigs feet. depends on the size of the feet small to medium 30-40 min big ones 45 min. then add to menudo. my mom taught me that trick. menudo comes out cleaner & tastes great. hope that helps. E

      • My dad was a butcher. He would cook the patas 1 hour before adding the nixtamal, an order hour. Fin ally he would add the tripe and cook for an additional 2 hours.

  6. How many people will this feed

    • Stephen Chavez

      This menudo recipe will easily feed at least 12 people.

  7. My dad would add “Gephardts” Chile powder in addition to the red chile’s. It is not cheating….just something you add to enhance the soup flavor.

  8. I can not wait to try this. I have been searching for a menudo recipe. I think I have found it. I will let you know how this turns out. Soooooooo supper excited.

    • Stephen Chavez

      Hope you enjoy it!

  9. What do you do with the unpeeled garlic when or is it removed?

  10. When or do you use the unpeeled garlic. Do you discard it at some point if so when thank

  11. I loved your recipe! It is the closest to how I make menudo. Believe it or not, my mom and grandmother use only Las Palmas Red Chile sauce in their menudo (yes, I see heads spinning). I use LPRC 1-2 cans and dried chili powders. The problem I’m having is the last few years 2012-2013 something has changed and the tripe is cooking in about 2 hrs! I usually add the hominy and chile at hour 3 of cooking. The first time it happened I checked the tripe at hour 2 and it was done!! No chile, no hominy and 20 people coming for breakfast. AYY! Another trip to the store and another 15 lbs of tripe later, breakfast was served. Now it usually cooks in 2 hours and I check it after the first hour. Lesson learned

  12. […] has an influence as well? Champorado, avocado, azucena, cereza / aratilis, sayote, tsokolate, menudo and pipian are the main ones but there are many too mention in this post. This all happened during […]

  13. How do you know when the tripe is done? I’m concerned about Renee Gonzales’ post about the tripe cooking in 2 hours. I’m Nigerian, Mexican and Nigerian foods are 90% identical if you ask me. However, Nigerians like the tripe to be “al dente`” (if you will) as a finished product. Is this the texture I should try to acheive? Or should it be more tender?

    • I use a pressure cooker for my tripe, hocks and/or pigs feet. 50 minutes at pressure and the meat is done, tender but still with a slightly chewy texture. This is as close to the florentine “al dente” texture of tripe as I have been able to achieve.

  14. What are the chile options we can use?

    • Stephen Chavez

      I would use a mix of dried California, Guajillo, Ancho chile peppers with some heat adding a bit of chile de arbol.

    • Stephen Chavez

      You can use a mixture of dried red chiles from Guajillo, New Mexico, California, Ancho, and others like chile de arbol. Buen provecho.

  15. how long can menudo stay out after cooking without refri.

    vcrodgez@yahoo.com

    • Stephen Chavez

      Keep your menudo on a very low heat until you have fed all of your guests. You definitely have to refrigerate it by cooling it down first. We break ours down into smaller batches to bring the temp down quicker. Remember, putting hot foods in the refrigerator will put your other food at risk. Hope this helps! Buen provecho.

  16. hi stephen, i’m wondering if you get send me some links about the history of menudo? there doesn’t seem to be too much information available online aside from wikipedia. i just learned how to make my abuela’s menudo and i’m writing an essay about it. i’d appreciate any resources you could provide, especially about its peasant food origins. thanks in advance!

    • Stephen Chavez

      Jene – Off hand, I don’t have any more information about the history of menudo, but can definitely do some research for you.

  17. Best I’ve tasted has a combination of guajillo, ancho, and pasilla, AND/or morita. (No red sauce…ever! LOL)
    I like it “espeso” as well! Thanks for the recipe. I’ve never added butter. I like mine with lots of lime and cilantro, but I’ll have to try the butter.

  18. Your recipe is close to what I use. I have leftover mole from our tamale-making and will be using the mole for our menudo. But I may add a can of LPRC to it!

    I’m a stickler for cleaning my menudo and removing all fat before cooking. Also, I do not like the smell of menudo wafting through my whole house. So…to prepare my menudo I rinse it and put it in the sink with lemon slices. While it is soaking in the sink with the lemon I get my soup pot filled with water and get the heat going on it. I also leave the menudo in the sink while I cut and remove any ‘foreign’ material and fat from the menudo. The lemon really cuts down on the smell and doesn’t make the menudo taste overly lemony. I too use pig feet and cook it separately. I don’t put the whole patas in it as they have little bones that can be mistaken for hominy and don’t want anyone to lose a tooth or crown! Thanks for your blog.

    • Stephen Chavez

      Helen – What an excellent idea for cleaning the menudo and removing any foul odors. Will definitely need to try this method soon. Happy cooking! Buen provecho.

  19. Stephen, I have to drive a long ways to get good fresh tripe. I was wondering if I could freeze a batch before preparing it? It would make my life easier to have some on hand like that. Thanks!

    • Stephen Chavez

      Yes, you can definitely freeze tripe.

  20. I don’t like the pig beet. My mom taught me to use beet feet instead. I have had it both ways. Thanks for the recipe;)

    Agnes

    • Stephen Chavez

      You’re welcome. Yes, I’ve used beef feet as well in my menudo. Both give excellent flavor, you just need to remember to skim off the fat from the broth as it cooks down. Happy cooking!

  21. What’s the difference between beef tripe and honeycomb tripe?

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