You know you are dealing with a serious dish when there is a cooking utensil dedicated solely to its preparation. Think of the omelette pan, the crêpe pan, the tajine, or the tourtière; used for foods whose preparation demand respect and perfection of technique. Add another recipe to the list: Tripes à la mode de Caen, and for that we have the tripière.
A heavy, glazed earthenware pot dating back to the middle ages, the tripière resembles a flattened bean pot. They come in various sizes, from individual 8 oz. to 3-gallon vessels designed to hold well over eight pounds of tripe.
The tripière sports a narrow mouth which helps to keep the moisture from evaporating and escaping from the vessel during cooking. The small opening also facilitates the sealing of the pot with flour paste to create a hermetic seal necessary for the proper preparation of the dish.
In the old days, the tripes à la mode de Caen would be assembled in the tripière at home and taken to the communal boulangerie oven to be cooked over night. The flat shape of the tripière made it possible to slide it through the baker oven’s narrow opening.
The tripière is designed for the long cooking time the tripes require. The clay guarantees an even heat distribution throughout the vessel and retains the heat well, which makes it a good serving piece. They are generally very handsomely glazed and make a perfect decorative piece for your kitchen or dining room when not in use.
Tripière are hard to come by both in the U.S. and in France. Most modern recipes for Tripes à la mode de Caen are adapted for saucepans, but if you are looking for that authentic provincial cooking experience, a bean pot or other glazed earthenware casserole makes a fine substitute. Having said that, I have a had excellent results using a stainless steel stockpot. The lack of a clay pot should not dismay you from enjoying the delicious Tripes à la mode de Caen!
Hardware: The Tripière
By Guy Docetoni