Patsas. Poor man’s food for the rich

 

Patsas, the Greek variant of a Balkan favourite; Tripe Soup

Not so long ago offal, the entrails and internal organs of an animal, was used as food for the poor. Nowadays, many 3 star Michelin chefs serve up heart, spleen, liver, kidneys and tripe prepared in an untraditional special manner. Offal can now be considered a delicacy reserved for the rich.
Patsas or tripe soup, is made from the muscle wall of only the first three chambers of a cow's stomach, called the 'rumen'. (A cow has 4 stomachs to help the animal properly digest its food. The 4th and final stomach of the cow is named the 'rennet' because it secrets an enzyme called rennet which is used in cheese making).
Tripe is highly nutritious, low in calories and an excellent source of easily digestable protein. Tripe contains an impressive amount of vitamin B12, selenium and zinc and contains about 35g of collagen per 100g of protein. Collagen is not only good for bones and skin but helps to speed up recovery after major surgery and orthopedic intervention.
Like all offal, tripe is cheap and plentiful but the popularity of patsas in Greece has caused restaurants there to charge up to 12 Euros/ 14 USD for a single plate! How they can get away with it is simple. Most of the customers are drunk. More on that later 😉
Well, today I will show you how you can make your own, up to 12 servings , all together for less than 5 Euros/6 USD. A kilo of tripe cost me 300 dinars in Serbia. That's about 2,40 Euros or less than 2 US Dollars.
Before we start I must add a warning; The taste does not suit everyone. In my opinion; you either love it or hate it.
I (learned to) love it!
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
cleaning the broth and chopping the tripe30 mins
Total Time5 hrs 10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Balkan, Greek
Keyword: soup, stew, tripe
Servings: 12 plates
Cost: 5 Euro/6 US$

Equipment

  • large deep pan or dutch oven
  • small skillet
  • Whisk
  • chopping block
  • chopping knife

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg Tripe The honeycombed 2nd stomach of the cow is best and most sough after. The 1st and 3rd stomach are also good but may have a stronger taste and smell.
  • 1 pigs trotter this should be extremely clean
  • 1 beef or veal shin, with meat on bone I used the ends of a couple of oxtails, the likes of which I used the next day for making a stew.
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large parsnip
  • 3 large onions
  • 1 bulb garlic This is used to make 'skordoskoumbi', a mixture of red wine vinegar, tomato paste, paprika powder and chopped garlic
  • 2-3 bay leaves dried
  • 1 tsp black pepper ground
  • 1-3 tsp salt add salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste double concentrated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 liter white distilled vinegar used for 'washing' the tripe
  • 30 cl red wine vinegar used to make 'skordoskoumbi' (see below)
  • 1 tsp paprika powder sweet
  • 5-7 liters water
  • 1 tsp chili flakes if you like it hot

Instructions

  • By your tripe, shins and trotters from a butcher so you can inspect its freshness. Please don't buy frozen because the quality cannot be guaranteed.
  • Place the tripe, trotters and shin into the largest and deepest pan you own. Fill with water till these ingredients are covered and bring to the boil.
  • While the tripe is coming to the boil prepare a deep tray (or oven dish) with a liter of white vinegar.
  • place the bones on an oven tray and bake the bones, at 220°C (430°F) till brown
  • While the bones are browning boil the tripe and trotter(s) for about an hour. Then remove the trotters and tripe and place these in the tray with vinegar and discard the water. Basically you boil the tripe and trotters twice. The first 'boil' will remove the 'stench' that is associated with tripe.
  • Place the tripe into the tray with vinegar and wash it by scraping a knife over the surface on both sides.
    Once the tripe is 'washed' rinse it under the tap with running water.
    Now cut the tripe (in case it is a large piece) into smaller (but not tiny) pieces.
    Return the cleaned and washed tripe to the pot with clean water. You now start making the soup
  • This is the time to add the aromatics; bay leaf, pepper, salt, whole skinned onions, as well as your (cleaned) root vegetables
  • let the whole lot simmer for up to 4 hours, occasionally topping up with water. A shorter cook time is possible but longer gets better results because the tripe will get softer the longer it's cooked.
    Alternatively it is possible to make this soup in a pressure cooker which can reduce the cooking time by at least half.
  • After 4 hours remove all ingredients from the broth. Discard the onions, aromatics and root vegetables.
    separate the tripe, shin and trotters into a tray and leave to cool.
  • Once the offal and trotters and shin are cool enough to handle cut the tripe into smaller pieces, remove the meat from the shin and trotters. Be careful because the trotters especially contain a lot of small bones which you don't want in the soup.
  • Now your Patsas is ready for eating.
    Just before serving make the 'Skordoskoumbi' by mixing a tablespoon of red wine vinegar with paprika and tomato paste as well as sliced or chopped garlic.
    If you like you can spice it up with some chili flakes also.

Notes

Patsas has, in my humble opinion, a unique taste which is either loved or hated but definitely something that needs to be acquired.
There are many ways to make this dish. In Turkey, where this broth is known as "iskembe corbasi" , they tend to add flour to thicken the broth and sometimes flavour the soup with lemon and egg.
The Serbs have a different name for tripe soup and call it; "skembici". They love it with plenty of paprika and prefer the soup to be thickened with flour. Sometimes, especially in winter, they may even add smoked cooked bacon to make the broth extra rich and filling.
My recipe is original in that I added root vegetables, pigs trotters as well as beef bones to enrich the broth. Other than that my patsas is very similar to the traditional Greek way.
In Greece the centre for patsas is the northern city of Thessaloniki where you used to be able to find a 'patsa-tzidiko' on every corner. Nowadays there are only few places left. As patsas was once upon a time a cheap 'belly filler' for the poor, today its most often eaten late at night, after clubbing, as a hangover cure for the rich.
Enjoy!

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