Beef Tripe Mondongo

Mondongo. Not mofongo, not the Congo, not mandingo – mondongo! And if your first reaction is to say, “Eww..” Then two things: 1. You’re a culinary pussy (short for pusillanimous), and 2. You were probably raised eating chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese while the “grown-ups” ate regular foods. So, I don’t blame you. I blame your parents for denying you the chance to develop a cosmopolitan palate. Now, back to mondongo.

I get the feeling that people who like organ meats tend to keep it to themselves. It’s almost like a hidden culture here in North America.  If you ask me, I will tell you openly that many of my favorite dishes feature organ meats (like tongue, tripe, kidney or thyroid gland).

From time to time the person asking, will first look around, and then sort of whisper to me that they also love organ meats!  Almost as if we’re discussing kitchen witchcraft in the middle of an American Inquisition led by chicken-nugget-eating Puritans. It’s really quite funny. But you find this culture of people who, maybe because they’ve been made fun of, or heard too many ewww’s from their colleagues, have kept their love of organ meats private.

There are few dishes that I like more than mondongo. When I was a kid in Caracas, Venezuela, my grandfather (an engineer) would take me to his shop and show me how to run all the machines – the lathes, winches, and other hydraulic and electric contraptions he would build. Then, he would let me play with the cats that controlled the rodent population in the shop, and finally, he would close up and drive me down to the Portuguese Club where I would order a hot, bubbling, cast iron skillet of mondongo. Man, those were happy times!

Beef tripe is an amazing ingredient. And those who can appreciate its value will agree with me. There is something about tripe – the squishy texture, the taste, and the way that the honeycomb pattern holds on to the sauce. There is nothing else in the world of food that tastes and feels like tripe. It is as good, as it is unique.

Almost every culture that has access to cattle, prepares something special with tripe, which is the stomach lining of the cow. Cows have four stomachs. Each of these stomachs has a different pattern on the inside – apparently they serve different functions for bovine animals – two have what seems like a jelly-shag-carpet-like-texture, the other one has layers and layers of stomach-tissue-sheets that resemble pages on a book, and the most coveted of the stomachs has a honeycomb pattern. This one is referred as honeycomb tripe, and it’s my favorite because of the way it holds on to the sauce,  and because of the perfect feel and texture when you cook it properly and eat it.

So, it was with great pleasure that I prepared this dish last weekend, while thinking of all the good times I shared with my grandfather when I was young. Here is the recipe.

I will give you one warning though. If you buy tripe that has not been processed first, it will stink to high Heaven! So, make sure that you buy cleaned tripe, or “scalded” tripe. This means that it was run through a sort of washing machine at the meat processing plant, that eliminated any bacteria, food residue, and bad smell from the tripe.

Yields: A lot!


  • 5 lbs of scalded (cleaned) honeycomb tripe, diced into 1 inch squares
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 large field tomatoes, diced (about 3 cups worth)
  • 2 Spanish or Portuguese chorizo sausages (the semi-dry red ones)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 packet of Goya azafran (saffron) flavoring packet OR a pinch of real saffron
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil


  • A pressure cooker
  • A large cooking pot with a thick bottom


  1. Put the tripe in the pressure cooker, add 2 cups of water, 1 tbsp of salt, and pressure cook on high (15psi) for 18 minutes.
  2. In a pot, add some olive oil and start cooking the onions and diced chorizo sausages until the onions are nicely caramelized (not burned, but brown)
  3. Add the garlic, tomato, chickpeas and saffron packet (or real saffron). Cook until the tomato has broken down, about another 10-12 minutes.
  4. Remove the tripe from the pressure cooker, you can leave most of the liquid in the pressure cooker, and put the tripe into the pot. Mix well, season with salt and pepper and cook at a simmer for another 20 minutes. If you need some liquid in the mondongo, take some from the pressure cooker. It should be slightly wet, it should not be a soup.
  5. Serve over steamed white rice, and if you like, add some hot sauce!