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If you've ever travelled to northern Mexico, you've probably noticed that many street food vendors feature tacos de tripas.  No, it's not honeycomb tripe, it's tripas, which are the small intestines in cattle.  Sure it sounds gross, but here's my recipe for authentic Mexican-style tacos de tripas...

Special tools:  Cast iron skillet, comal, griddle, or whatever, see text
Preparation time:  About 10 minutes, allow overnight to marinate.
Cooking time:  About 10 minutes
Yield:  2 servings

1/2 pound tripas, see text
8 corn tortillas, CD-sized
Tomatoes, cilantro, cabbage, onions, line slices, radishes,
avocado guacamole, etc. for garnish
Seasoning to taste, I use my
all purpose seasoning and rub

Allow at least 1/4 pound of tripas per person.  Cut tripas into 6 inch lengths.  Apply a liberal coating of all-purpose seasoning to tripas.  Seal in plastic bag; I use a zip lock bag.  Allow to marinate at least 4 hours or overnight.  

Heat outdoor grill to high heat.  I use mesquite wood chips for smoky flavor, but the choice is up to you.  Place cast iron griddle on grill, directly over flame.  When griddle is hot, place tortillas on it, and allow them to cook until bubbles appear; about 10 seconds.  Flip over and repeat process, which should take another 10 seconds. Remove tortillas from heat and reserve, preferably in a tortilla warmer.

Place tripas on griddle.  Cook, turning frequently to avoid burning, for about 10 minutes, until browned on all sides.  Remove from griddle and dice with sharp knife.  Place tripas over 2 corn tortillas, apply desired garnishes, and serve immediately.  Read on for further information.

Where do I begin to talk about authentic Mexican tacos de tripas?  OK, tripas are small intestines in cattle, goats or hogs, and they're not honeycomb tripe, which is commonly found in U.S. grocery stores.  In Mexico, tripas can be found in any grocery store, including national chains such as Leyva or Soriiana.  In my particular case, in Roseville, CA, I searched all of the local carniceriķas and meat markets, and I couldn't score tripas.  Finally,, out of desperation, I headed to the nearest WalMart SuperStore, and lo and behold, I found tripas, packaged in one pound packages.  Needless to say, I purchased several packages of tripas.

Photo:  Tripas have been covered with my favorite seasoning and rub, ready to be placed in a plastic zip lock bag for marinating.

Photo:  Corn tortillas, heating on my cast iron griddle, on an outdoor grill.

In Mexico, tripas are usually cooked over a propane-fired griddle or comal, but they're frequently grilled on an open grill, using mesquite coals.  Keep in mind that tripas shrink considerably, so allow an ample amount of tripas per serving.  Leftovers aren't a problem, as your guests will be clamoring for more.  If you're prowling the streets of Tijuana or Mexicali, you'll see numerous street food vendors who are cooking tacos de tripas over a propane-fired grill or griddle.

Photo:  Tripas cooking on the cast iron griddle.  

Photo:  the finished product... tacos de tripas.  Note the double corn tortillas, which not only provide additional great taste, and prevent breakage, but also are an authentic ingredient if you care to reproduce food, as sold on the streets of Tijuana.

Tacos de tripas may sound gross, but believe me, you'll love 'em.  If you've ever traveled to northen Mexico, and if you're brave enough to enjoy the street cusine, then you have an appreciation for tacos de tripas.

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