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Quinto quarto

The properties of tripe : the noble waste

Main ingredient of the fifth quarter

On restaurant menus and on television programs we hear more and more often about the fifth quarter, aka offal. We are talking about those more internal parts - and organs - of the animal and once considered "less noble" or waste, which were consumed by less wealthy families to follow the philosophy that nothing of the animal is thrown away. The offal is in turn divided into white - those that are boiled before sale - and red - those sold raw and without processing.

In particular, offal includes: tripe, kidneys, lungs, heart, liver, small intestine, testicles, spleen, breasts, brain, tail, legs and tongue. All cuts with a strong taste, intense flavor and a particular and strong smell. The new wave in the rediscovery of these particular cuts has been captured admirably by chefs from all over the world to bring dishes with a traditional flavor but with an innovative touch to the table.

Tripe: peasant offal

Tripe, among all offal, is the thickest part found in the stomach of cattle and is almost fat-free: in cooking it is excellent for sautéing in a pan, fried or perfect on the grill. It is not a single element but includes the stomach (or abomasum), widely used in the typical Tuscan lampredotto recipe, and the forestomaci (the rumen, the omasum and the reticulum or cap) which are also typical elements for some traditional Italian recipes.

Tripe is therefore a food considered "poor", but not in taste, and which is part of many traditional Italian recipes. From a gustatory point of view, its particular grassy aftertaste derives precisely from its function in the ruminant, i.e. that of digesting grass, which is often considered "only for connoisseurs".

Lean and nutritious food

Although the name might make you think of a very fatty food rich in cholesterol, tripe is actually a lean ingredient with interesting nutritional values. Erroneously considered fatty and too rich in cholesterol, tripe actually turns out to be a very lean food with an interesting nutritional value. Let's see some nutritional characteristics:

  • Tripe is a food rich in proteins and contains only 3% fat, half of which is monounsaturated and beneficial for health.
  • Like almost all offal it has a good content of minerals such as: calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium.
  • It is a good source of vitamin B12 and choline: very important for brain health.

Friend of the body: collagen

Tripe, being a connective tissue, is a food very rich in collagen, an element that we also find in the skin of pigs and chickens, which is very important for our health. Tripe collagen is a very important protein for our muscles, bones, joints, skin and all elements related to keratin (hair, nails, etc.), it also prevents osteoporosis and helps keep the skin more elastic and young .

Uses of tripe in the kitchen

Among the many ways to enjoy tripe, simplicity always pays off: boiled and served seasoned with oil, salt and lemon juice, it is the most digestible and lightest way to enjoy it. For an extra touch, we can add it to the mixed salad, with fresh parsley and white pepper. In addition to its classic use, Italian tradition sees it as the protagonist of many stewed preparations. Tuscan tripe with vegetables and tomato, Roman tripe with tomato, the legendary bacon and pecorino, or let's remember the typical Milanese tripe: a cornerstone of the Lombard tradition.

Not only in Italy but in many countries around the world we can find recipes with tripe that are truly tasty but never poor. In short, a versatile and economical cut, nutritious and suitable for all palates - due to its shape not for everyone - but if you manage to go beyond the shape and consistency, you will find in tripe an ingredient to reevaluate and bring to the table more often.