Ok, I know this is going to sound quite off putting for many people. Tripe is a scary old thing. But fear not, although the word “Callos” translates as tripe, I don´t actually put any into this dish (although you could). Confused eh?
Well, let me explain. The first time I ever ate this dish was at a Feria in a nearby hamlet. It´s tiny, probably only a dozen houses, but it belongs to our “Municipio” and puts on an amazing fiesta every year. One of the first of the summer in fact. They always seem to attract a good flamenco singer, they do a fantastic paella at lunchtime, and they always have plenty of good food apart from the usual pinchitos (kebabs) and montaditos (fillets of pork on bread). Hundreds of people attend, it´s a great event apart from the winds which whip down the mountain and make hairstyles, skirts, old people and small children blow all over the place.
So, Big Man ordered me a portion of Callos which was essentially a chick pea stew with tiny chunks of meat, chorizo and morcilla in it. I loved it and looked up the word when I got home and though “oh lord, I´ve been eating tripe”! During the almost six years I´ve lived here, I´ve only eaten it a couple of times a year as not many people make it anymore – it´s not complicated to make, but it takes time.
Of course, I recently decided that I wasn´t prepared to wait until next summer for my fix, I´d make my own. This is where the fun started. I asked the butcher to prepare me whatever I needed for this dish (meat wise) and that´s when I found out that her version would not include tripe.
Strange, I thought, but let´s crack on. She (yes, we have two butchers locally, and one is a woman who looks exactly like a lady butcher should look – big and jolly with fingers like sausages) got things ready. The goodie bag included (per four person serving):
- Two pigs trotters split down the middle
- Some finely chopped pork tongue
- A finely chopped pigs ear
- Some chopped pancetta or pork belly
- Some finely chopped cooked pigs blood
See – not so scary after all (well, maybe apart from the blood)! I also had to buy some chorizo and morcilla and chick peas. I´m not giving measurements here as it´s a kind of “make it up as you go along” dish. I then asked about 20 different people how they made Callos. Half had never made it so were of no help at al. The others gave me 10 different ways of making it, each with their own little “twist”.
This is what I eventually came up with, and I have to say it tasted as good as the Fiesta version, and Big Man thought it was better…modesty prevented me from saying that myself of course!
Soak the chick peas overnight and the next day cook slowly for a couple of hours with a few bay leaves, 4 cloves, and a dried chilli until completely tender. Don´t rush this, you´ll have plenty to be getting on with while they cook.
In a separate pot blanch the all the pork products, drain and put into fresh water. Now cook slowly for a couple of hours until really tender and drain again. Get those kitchen gloves on and pull all the tender meat off the trotters and discard the bones (or give them to your dog who will love you forever). Now add the chunks of meat to the cooked chick peas (still in their water). Add about 5 or 6 whole cloves of raw or roasted garlic, some saffron dissolved in water, ½ a teaspoon of sweet or hot pimentón, the whole chorizo and morcilla (which you will slice before serving) and cook for about 30 minutes. Leave to stand for at least 15 minutes before serving (but it´s even better prepared the day before) and remove the cloves, bay leaves and dried chilli.
Make sure you have a table full of very hungry people, don´t tell them what´s in it if they´re a bit squeamish, and enjoy. Now go for a lie down…you´ll need it!