Tripe, being the lining of the first three stomachs of a ruminant, starts its life as a foul-smelling material that is popular in this green state only with undiscerning canines. Anybody who has cooked green tripe for a pet will know why it must be scraped, bleached and precooked before going into the kitchen. However, the majority of tripe now sold here has been so zealously cleaned and boiled it has no flavour at all.
You can try talking to your butcher, because there is excellent French tripe on sale in the wholesale markets. You could also try a Chinese or Asian market and Halal butchers are another possible source of supply. When you do get your hands on the real thing, try cooking it å la mode de Caen, one of Normandy’s great dishes. Drink dry cider with the meal, Calvados after.
Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas 3. Cut the tripe into 5-cm / 2-inch squares and reserve. Give the pig’s trotter a thorough pedicure and blanch it in boiling water for 5 minutes. Throw this water away and give the trotter a rinse under cold running water.
Heat the oil in a casserole over a moderate heat and fry the onions and carrots until soft but not browned. Add the tripe, the trotter, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and salt and pepper. Pour over the cider and add water to cover. Bring the casserole to the boil on the hob, skimming off any scum that comes to the surface. Put on a lid, put into the oven and cook for 4 hours. If necessary, this can now be held until the next day. Remove the trotter and discard.
Bring the tripe to the boil on the hob, lower the heat and simmer for 10–15 minutes uncovered. Just before serving, stir in the Calvados. Serve scattered with lots of flat-leaved parsley and with some good bread to mop up the juices.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.