Callos is Spanish for beef tripe but callos in the Philippines is a stew and tripe is only one of the many ingredients.
I had an old callos recipe. But I had been experimenting and this new one, my third recipe, is definitely much better. I used sun dried tomatoes. Ah, the flavor is just incomparable. Sun dried tomatoes too pricey? There’s always good old fresh tomatoes.
Whichever kind of tomato you use will be fine — just don’t forget the chorizo de Bilbao. This legacy from the Spanish colonial era derives a lot of its aroma, color and flavor from the chorizo de Bilbao. And that makes it a lot different from other tomato-based stews. Chorizo de Bilbao is a spicy sausage packed in paprika flavored lard. In the Philippines, they are available canned, vacuum-packed or frozen. A bit expensive, but the flavor it gives a dish is just wonderful. Highly spiced, one chorizo de Bilbao is enough for this recipe.
Then, of course, the stock that comes from simmering the ox leg is incomparable. It is naturally thick and sticky. If available, choose bone-in ox leg. The flavor will even be richer.
Callos: Beef Tripe and Leg Stew
- 1 kilogram k. of honeycomb tripe
- 1 kilogram k. of beef leg (you can buy these pre-sliced in trays in most groceries)
- 1 whole garlic
- 1 teaspoon . of peppercorns
- 1 whole onion
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon annatto seeds (or use annatto powder)
- 1 chorizo de Bilbao thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 3/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil (or 1 kg. of fresh tomatoes, chopped)
- 2 bird’s eye chilis chopped
- 2 to 3 sprigs oregano fresh
- 2 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1 large carrot peeled and cubed
- 2 bell peppers cored and seeded, then cut into thin strips
- 1/3 cup sweet peas
- 1/3 cup canned garbanzos (chick peas), drained
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- sugar to taste
Rinse the tripe and leg. Place in a pot, cover with water, add salt, the whole garlic, onion, peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer just until tender, anywhere from four to six hours. Alternatively, use a pressure cooker or slow cooker. Note that the tripe will probably cook faster than the leg so you might have to fish out the tripe while the leg continues to cook. Don’t cook the meat to death at this point as you will simmer then some more later.
Cool the meat then cut into strips about two inches long and half an inch wide.
Heat the olive oil in a clean pot. Add the annatto seeds and cook gently over medium-low heat until they render color. Scoop out and discard. Skip this step if using annatto powder. You just add the powder to the oil and that’s that.
Turn up the heat to high. Add the sliced chorizo to the oil. Cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the minced garlic, chopped onion, chilis, sun dried tomatoes (or chopped fresh tomatoes) and oregano. Saute for about two minutes.
Add the tripe and leg, potatoes, carrot, peas, bell peppers and garbanzos. Pour in just enough of the broth, about a cup, in which the tripe and leg were cooked to barely cover all the ingredients. Don’t add too much unless you want a soupy callos.
Taste and add salt, pepper and a bit of sugar for balance.
Bring to the boil then lower the heat — lowest setting — and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until the sauce is thick and reduced, the vegetables are done and the meat is really, really tender.
During the 30 to 45 minutes of simmering, stir occasionally to make sure that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. If the mixture appears too dry, add more broth, no more than half a cup at a time. Taste occasionally too and make adjustments, as needed.
Serve the callos hot with rice or crust bread. Note though that as with most stews, callos is even better the next day after reheating.