Portuguese White Chili

Because I had the ingredients on hand and that evenings have gotten cooler (finally!), I decided to make a certain kind of white chili. Confession time: It does have two key ingredients you probably have not tried, do not want to try or both. One is collagen rich, which is the protein so important for healthy skin and muscle tone. The other is an excellent source of protein that is high in fiber and rich in calcium. Good stuff. If you do eat meat even once in a while please keep reading! Otherwise, this blog post is probably one to click by. :)

Rich with a blend of curry and spices, the beans add a firmness in contrast to the overall creaminess of this hearty cassoulet-like dish. Calling it that may be glorifying this bean stew just a bit, but I'm really hoping you will give it a chance. It was once described to me as "rib-sticking soul food", and this was from someone who never tried the two key ingredients before. With bits of tender meat lending a subtle, unique flavor, this is a comfort food that "hits the spot" and beckons the satiated to pile on seconds. Also regarded as one of the best hangover foods (so they say), if it happens to be in the fridge, it gets chosen over just about anything else ... for several meals in a row ... if it lasts that long ... in fridges with other wonderful noshing options ... really.

The traditional method for making this recipe calls for preparing the meat in larger, discernible pieces. But if I did that, no one would give it a chance! So the first change is to focus on making it more palatable. I start by pouring a nice glass of wine, pulling out my trusty knife and chopping everything up into very small pieces. Not too much wine because dexterity is important, but a sip here and there takes the edge off while I deal with hocks and sponge. Yes, you heard it right. We're talking trotters and tripe. Hang on if you can ... So I just keep chopping until I'm convinced that all traces of sponge-like pieces have been removed.

Next up: The dish gets renamed "Portuguese white chili". The original name, "Tripas a Moda do Porto" gives away too much because "tripas" is Portuguese for "tripe". With a history dating back to fifteenth century Henry the Navigator and The Battle of Ceuta, changing the name requires a fairly bold move. I try to justify it as best I can: When given the opportunity I do like rolling my r's, but let's face it, the word "tripa" does not sound all that yummy. So I tell myself that after several hundred years, a name change is long overdue. The rest of the ingredients are generally more acceptable, I think, including chouriço (Portuguese sausage), navy beans, homemade roasted tomato sauce, onions, carrots, garlic, cumin and so on. However, I'm concerned its original name may possibly scare away the otherwise happy diner of white chili. No planned deceptions. It's not to trick anyone into eating something they would prefer not to eat. Simply upgrading the name helps it sound enticing, which this dish deserves. Sorry Henry.

Al likes Portuguese White Chili with fresh-from-the-oven sourdough bread. And I think this absolutely "offal chili" gets some umami goodness from freshly grated queijo da ilha along with a dollop of homemade goat yogurt. Queijo da ilha is a wonderful hard, sharp somewhat spicey Portuguese cheese from cows roaming freely on Azorean pastures. Lucky cows.

So if you have the stomach (couldn't resist the pun), consider trying a version of Tripas a Moda do Porto, reworking with some chopping magic. Similar to traditional chili, there are many versions of this dish, but if you would like mine, see below. Remember that all you need to do is pour yourself a good glass of wine while dealing with the tripe and trotters chopping, and then you should be sure-footed and good to go! - Caroline

Portuguese White Chili

This slow-food dish requires at least two days for the cooking steps. It is not complicated, but it does take time. As is, the recipe yields a generous ten cups, but it can be proportionately decreased (or increased) to your liking. I like to double the recipe and then freeze a big batch of single one-cup servings. Like typical chili recipes, this is a great springboard for adjusting any of the ingredients and flavorings to your preferences. Try chicken in place of trotters and bacon or perhaps Portuguese presunto / Italian prosciutto in place of the ham steak. If you don’t like curry, leave it out. Maybe add marjoram and fresh thyme instead. Serve with rice, couscous and/or a good sourdough bread. Top with diced garden-fresh tomatoes and parsley - - or with your favorite cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Serve in a bread bowl or on a potato, and definitely with a salad. So many possibilities!


1 1/2 pounds pig's (or calves’) feet, cut in chunks by butcher

2 pounds honeycomb tripe

5 oz chouriço, casing removed and coarsely chopped into smaller pieces

7 oz lean ham steak cut in tiny cubes about the size of green peas

1 pound dried navy beans - alternatively use more traditional beans such as haricot, great Northern or chickpeas. Do start with dried beans so they can do their very best in amplifying the overall flavor and in adding the right texture. Canned beans work in a pinch, but it won't be nearly the same.

Coarsely chopped in food processor: 3 yellow onions, 2 carrots, 5 whole garlic cloves, 1 cup fresh parsley

3/4 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon cumin

1 bay leaf

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


--> Cut tripe into manageable pieces approximately three inches square. Clean the tripe. If it is grey or greenish brown in color, a more thorough cleaning beyond these directions will be required. These directions are specifically for white (bleached) tripe. First use a sharp knife to remove any fat that may appear on the smooth side. It will be white in color. Discard. Clean by rubbing thoroughly on both sides with coarse salt. Rinse with cold running water. Repeat at least three times, removing all of the salt. Soak in cold water for 2 - 3 hours.

--> Place tripe and trotters in stock pot. Cover with water above everything by about one inch. Add one teaspoon salt and half of the red wine (1/4 cup). Bring to boil then lower to barely a simmer. Allow to cook this way for three hours or longer. Amount of time depends on how tender you prefer your tripe. I slow cook it for about three hours, sometimes longer so that it is very tender. Caveat: a cooked-tripe aroma will develop in your house. To minimize, maintain a simmering stovetop potpourri of cinnamon sticks, orange slices and cloves. Once cooking is done, allow to cool a bit then refrigerate.

--> Rinse and soak dried navy beans overnight. Do this in the usual manner for cleaning and soaking dried beans prior to cooking. Keep in mind that beans can generally soak for up to 24 hours without any problems. After that, drain and store in fridge for up to four days. Good to know if life gets busy and you need to delay some of the steps here.

--> Next day, drain trotters and tripe from pot, reserving broth for cooking soaked beans. Drain beans from soaking water, rinse then add to pot of reserved broth. Bring to boil then simmer on low for one hour.

--> While beans are cooking in the flavored broth, cut tripe into square pieces, smaller than a dime and larger than a pea so that its sponge-like texture is no longer apparent. This is when you have a glass of wine and use your trusty knife. Actually, you may have implemented the wine suggestion when tripe was first mentioned and that works too. Get the music going and know that you are almost done with the difficult step. Now for the trotters, discard bones and fatty skin. Keep only the lean meat and nutritious marrow. There will be very little. It will mostly be slimy fatty skin and bones. Yes, slimy. Take another sip of wine. Okay, you’re good. Traditional recipes keep everything but the bones, but we will keep only the leaner meat and toss the rest.

--> After an hour of simmering begin checking the beans for texture. Drain, reserving broth when beans reach the al dente stage. Set drained beans aside, combining with the tripe and trotters.

--> In large pot on medium/high heat sauté onions, carrots, garlic cloves and parsley in the olive oil. After a minute add chouriço and cubed ham. Add just enough reserved broth so that sauté does not stick. After another couple of minutes add the curry, paprika and cumin. After another minute or so add the rest of the wine, tomato sauce and bay leaf, followed by a little more broth, if needed. Once everything is blended together, add beans, tripe and trotters. Ladle in additional reserved broth for a stew-like (not soup-like) consistency. It can be slightly thinner than a typical chili because it will thicken when refrigerated. You may be left with quite a bit of unused broth. I save it to make pea soup. Just cool, date and freeze for another time.

--> Allow everything to simmer in the pot for about half an hour and then add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy, or for a more developed flavor wait until tomorrow. Then you can make bread and serve this at just the right time when your warm sourdough bread is ready. Al maintains a wonderful sourdough starter for me. Let me know if you would like that recipe!

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