When you think about Italian food, chances are you think about pasta or even osso buco. Few non-Italians think of tripe as a traditional Italian meal. Walk into any cafe or family restaurant in an Italian neighborhood, however, and take a look at the menu and you will find veal honeycomb tripe. Italian-style veal tripe is slow simmered to make the tripe tender, and then highly seasoned with garlic, onion, red pepper flakes and oregano to give it the savory Italian flavor you know and love.
Rinse the tripe under cool water to rid the tripe of any blood or cleaning solution that the butcher uses. The tripe is clean when it is white with no traces of bloody residue.
Place the tripe in a large stockpot and fill the stockpot 3/4 full with water. Bring the tripe and water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot and simmer the tripe for one hour.
Remove the tripe from the water and allow it to cool. When you can easily handle the tripe, cut it into pieces 2 inches long by 1/2 inch wide.
Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan and heat it over high heat. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium-high and add the panchetta, garlic cloves, onion, red pepper flakes, basil and oregano. Sauté until the onions are almost translucent and the garlic begins to pop in the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the white wine. Simmer the ingredients for two minutes. Then add the tomato paste, Italian tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to integrate the ingredients.
Add the tripe and cover the saucepan. Simmer the tripe for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan or Romano cheese and simmer, covered, for 15 more minutes. At the end of the cooking time, remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the ingredients to steep in the covered saucepan for 30 minutes.
Serve the tripe warm with the rest of the Parmesan or Romano cheese to garnish.
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.