As with many authentic Mexican dishes, menudo comes in countless renditions. It can be red (made with dried chilies) or not; include pig’s feet or hominy (or both or neither); and be served with bolillos, tortillas, or tostadas. But regardless of the preparation, this dish always carries the distinction as a cure for the unpleasant physical effects associated with a night of heavy drinking.
Often served with multiple garnishes and salsas, menudo tends to be a labor-intensive undertaking, and for this reason, its preparation steps frequently get distributed among several members of a family or community. The collective nature of menudo-making contributes to its reputation as a special-occasion dish. Considered a morning—or at least a daytime—meal, menudo commonly appears on the breakfast table on January 1 or on the morning after a wedding or other large celebration.
Rustic mom-and-pop restaurants in Mexico and the southwestern United States often serve menudo as a weekend brunch item. Cooks usually prepare the soup mid-week, then chill and reheat it on Saturday or Sunday, a process that concentrates the broth and intensifies the flavors.
- 2 cups dried hominy*
- 3 pounds dressed honeycomb beef tripe (cut into bite-size pieces)
- 2 pounds pig's feet (split in half, bones and skin intact)
- 1 large onion (peeled and chopped)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 5 cloves of fresh garlic (peeled and chopped)
- 5 whole black peppercorns
- 1 ancho chili (toasted, seeded, and coarsely chopped)
- 2 poblano chilies (roasted, seeded, peeled, and coarsely chopped)
- Garnishes: halved limes, chopped onion, torn cilantro leaves
- Cover the hominy with water and soak it overnight.
- Drain the hominy, then put it in a medium pot, cover it by 2 to 3 inches of water, and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the hominy for 2 hours, adding more hot water as necessary to keep it covered.
- Drain the hominy and transfer it into a large pot.
- Add the beef tripe to the pot, plus the pig’s feet, onion, oregano, garlic, and peppercorns.
- Cover everything by 2 to 3 inches of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and keep it at a simmer for 2 more hours.
- Add the chilies, then cook the soup for an additional hour.
- Serve menudo hot with limes, chopped onion, and cilantro on the side so everyone can garnish their own bowl. Accompany the soup with bolillos, tortillas, or tostadas and any Mexican table sauce(s) that you wish.
While not nearly as labor-intensive as some versions, this menudo recipe does take time. You can make it over the course of two or three days, chilling it between steps and re-heating it right before serving. Menudo (similar to pozole and other soups and stews) tastes even better as a leftover than when you first make it.
You can remove the pig's feet before serving, although some people enjoy scraping off any fat, meat or marrow they can find remaining on the bones.
*Substitute 4 cans (15-oz.) hominy for dry to cut down on the preparation time. You can add it with the chilies.
Edited by Robin Grose