A few years ago, I went to visit my maternal uncle Eduardo. He has always loved food and cooking, so much so that he became a chef and opened a restaurant in my hometown of Monterrey. He has since retired, but continues to cook at home, and this is a recipe he made for me. I wanted to learn, so I was his sous chef for the afternoon and we had a great time. The food, of course, was delicious!
Menudo is a beloved Mexican dish famous not only for its flavour, but for its power as a hangover remedy. Older teens and adults alike end all-nighters eating menudo at local restaurants in the wee hours of the morning. The thing about Menudo is that it's made with tripe - specifically honeycomb tripe, which is the second stomach of the cow - as well as pig trotters, and I have to admit, it smells pretty strong when you're cooking it at home. This deters many home cooks from making it, hence its popularity at restaurants.
Well, this menudo is neither made with tripe, nor stinky while you cook it. Furthermore, it is vegetarian, but can easily be made vegan if you use water instead of stock. The texture of the wild mushrooms like oyster or maitakes resembles the tripe, and that's how this dish got its name.
The recipe is very easy and the technique is common among Mexican recipes. Roast tomatoes, onions and garlic, toast and re-hydrate dried chiles, blend to make a sauce and then cook the sauce before adding the rest of the ingredients. Sound easy? It is!
I hope you give this Menudo a try - it is very easy and elegant enough for a fancy dinner. Why not make it for 5 de Mayo? Go ahead and impress your guests!
MENUDO DE SETAS
Wild Mushroom Stew with Guajillo Chiles and Epazote
6 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 white Spanish onion, peeled and quartered
1 small red onion, peeled and and quartered
8 roma tomatoes, whole
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 Tbsp vegetable oil or lard
1 handful fresh epazote leaves, or 2 tsp dried
2-3 bay leaves
1 tsp dried marjoram or Mexican oregano
2 kg wild mushrooms, or a variety of mushrooms, sliced or torn apart
2 litres chicken stock
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
Salt to taste
½ onion, minced
1 handful cilantro, chopped
2 limes, cut into slices
Heat a cast iron griddle over medium heat and toast chiles just until they start to get fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Place on a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 15-20 minutes, or until completely pliable. Drain and set aside.
On griddle, roast tomatoes, onions and unpeeled garlic until charred all over. Place tomatoes, onions, garlic and 1 cup chicken stock in blender container and blend until very smooth.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat lard or vegetable oil. Pour sauce into pan and mix well with the oil. Add epazote, bay leaves and marjoram or oregano. Cook at low heat, stirring often, to let flavours blend. After 15 minutes, add mushrooms, 2-3 cups stock, pepper and salt to taste. Continue cooking, partially covered, until sauce is well seasoned and mushrooms are soft, another 30 minutes.
For garnish, mix diced onion and chopped cilantro in a small bowl. Set this at the table, along with lime slices. Serve stew in bowls, and let people add the cilantro/onion mixture to their own bowls. Sprinkle lime juice if you like. Serve corn tortillas on the side.