Menudo Rojo (Mexican Red-Chile Tripe Soup)

Menudo, a spicy and hearty tripe stew from Mexico, is flavored with an infusion of dried chiles, dried oregano, and cumin.

Overhead view of menudo rojo

Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Menudo is a spicy tripe stew from Mexico that features tender-chewy pieces of long-simmered tripe in a hearty broth loaded with hominy and infused with dried red chiles. Toasted, soaked, and blended into the broth, the chiles provide a pungent backdrop to the assertive texture and flavor of the tripe. Honeycomb tripe, the most geometrically beautiful of all four of a cow's stomachs, is a nice choice for menudo due to its tenderness and comparatively shorter cooking time.

Honeycomb tripe, before cooking

As an extra precaution to remove overtly gamey flavors, the tripe is scrubbed and parboiled before it is placed in the stew. Provided that you don't have any minuscule cuts on your fingers, scrubbing the tripe with salt and lime juice is an entertaining activity in itself. Like removing a stain from an item of clothing, I use a scrubbing motion to work the salt and lime into the hexagonal weave of the tripe. Split pigs' feet are used in the stew for body and flavor; prior to adding the chiles, the broth of tripe and trotters will be a beautiful milky white thanks to ample gelatin that holds rendered fat in a fairly stable emulsion in the broth.

20090728-nastybits-chiles.jpg
Chile guajillo.

The recipe here calls for dried New Mexico chiles, though guajillos are another great choice. To sop up the flavorful broth of the menudo, serve the soup with freshly-made or high-quality store-bought tortillas.

July 28, 2009

This recipe was cross-tested in 2022 and updated to guarantee best results. For a more flavorful menudo, we added a pork trotter and increased the amount of garlic, onion, dried oregano, chiles, and cumin. We also cut the tripe in larger, 1- to 2-inch pieces and simmered the soup for longer to get silky, tender tripe.

Recipe Facts

Prep: 35 mins
Cook: 3 hrs 45 mins
Resting Time:: 40 mins
Total: 5 hrs
Serves: 6 servings

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Ingredients

For the Soup:

  • 2 pounds (907g) beef honeycomb tripe

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 large lime)

  • 2 tablespoons (18g) plus 1 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste (for table salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight)

  • 1 pork trotter (about 1 pound 5 ounces; 600g), halved lengthwise

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano

  • 2 dried bay leaves

  • 10 medium cloves garlic (2 1/2 ounces; 70g total), crushed, divided

  • 1 large white onion (12 ounces; 340g), chopped (about 2 cups), divided

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 8 medium dried New Mexico chiles (about 1.43 ounces; 40g total; see note)

  • One 29-ounce can white hominy, drained (about 2 1/2 cups)

For Serving:

  • Fresh lime wedges

  • Chopped white onion

  • Fresh cilantro

  • Sliced serrano chiles

  • Warmed soft corn tortillas, for serving

Directions

  1. For the Soup: Wash and rinse tripe thoroughly in warm water. Place in a large bowl, then sprinkle with lime juice and 1 tablespoon (9g) salt, and scrub vigorously. Let soak 30 minutes, then rinse and wash the tripe again in warm water. Drain.

    Cleaned tripe on a plate

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

  2. Cut tripe into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Place tripe and pork trotter in a large stockpot, cover with water by 2 inches, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then drain and rinse. If necessary, wipe out pot.

    Tripe and pork trotter in pot with water

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

  3. Return tripe and trotter to stockpot. Add 12 cups (2.8L) water, oregano, bay leaves, 6 garlic cloves, and half of the onion (about 1 cup). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming surface as needed; then reduce heat to medium-low and partially cover. Simmer gently until tripe is very tender, 2 to 3 hours.

    A wooden spoon lifting tripe up out of the stock pot

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

  4. Set a large cast iron or stainless-steel skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and toast, tossing often, until fragrant and slightly darkened, 2 to 3 minutes; remove from skillet and set aside. In same skillet, toast chiles until pliable and slightly darkened, 30 to 60 seconds per side.​​ Tear chiles open; remove and discard stems and seeds. Place chiles in a heatproof bowl, then submerge in boiling water. Cover and let soak until softened, about 15 minutes.

    Seeds separated from peppers

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

  5. Remove pork trotters and set aside until cool enough to handle; pick off any pieces of meat and return them to pot, discarding bones.

    Trotters removed from pot

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

  6. Drain chiles and place them in a blender with remaining onion, 4 cloves garlic, and toasted cumin. Add 2 cups of simmering broth, and blend until very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes; to prevent the hot liquid from erupting violently when blending, make sure to open the vent on the blender lid, hold it covered with a clean kitchen towel, and start the blender at its lowest speed before increasing to high. Strain chile-broth mixture through a fine mesh sieve and stir it back into the soup, along with the hominy. Simmer until hominy is tender and flavors have melded, 20 to  30 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt, if desired.

    Straining pepper mixture from blender

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

  7. To Serve: Serve hot with condiments and tortillas on the side, to be used according to personal taste.

    Finished soup next to tortiallas

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Special Equipment

Blender, fine-mesh strainer

Notes

California chiles can be substituted for the New Mexico chiles for less heat, as can guajillo chiles, for more heat.