You arrive by train at Rome’s Ostiense station and walk out to the taxi rank. There are no cabs. Some guy whistles over to you, “taxi?” You shake your head “no”. After twenty minutes of this the guy whistles again. He is among the class of “abusivi” who work under the table for a negotiated price. The reason there are no cabs at the station is that the official cabs are “in sciopero”, on strike. This happens a lot. So for 10 Euro he will drive you to your hotel. There is no meter in the car so he will get you there fast, sometimes driving the wrong way at high speed up hill on a one way street. Now he will either go back to the train station or use your Euro to buy himself a hot meal in Testaccio. This is the old slaughterhouse district and the specialties typically feature the “quinto quarto”, the “fifth quarter”. This recipe is my own take on “quinto quarto.” If you think that you won’t like tripe, you will after you taste this. —pierino
honeycomb tripe, well rinsed, sliced into strips, 3”x ½”
chick peas (soaked overnight)
olive oil or lard
About 1 ounce guanciale (or pancetta) thinly sliced
sweet onion, thinly sliced
ribs celery, sliced very thin plus whatever celery leaves are attached
1 1/2 cups
of your best tomato sauce
hot pepper flakes (or more to your heat level)
Place the tripe strips in a deep pot and cover them with water. Season with a generous amount of coarse sea salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours until tender.
Heat the olive oil (or lard) in a sauté pan. Add the guanciale (pancetta) and allow to color. Give the garlic cloves a couple of smacks. Sautee with the onion and the pepper flakes. Add the chopped celery and celery leaves and continue to cook for about 5 minutes and then hold off heat.
Add your now tender trippa to another deep pot. Add the sauté mix along with the white wine and tomato sauce. Season with ground black pepper. You will probably need to add a bit more water. Spoon in the chickpeas. Cook slowly for about 45 minutes to an hour.*
Grate the pecorino and chop the mint and place in separate bowls. Finish the dish with a bit of each but leave the bowls out on the table for your guests to add as they like.
*A slow cooker can be very convenient for this final stage. You can go take a nap or something because your work is done.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.