Chitterlings, also commonly called chitlins in the South, are essentially cooked pig intestines with added spices. Chitlins are a common dish in soul food and Louisiana Cajun cooking cultures, where they typically take most of the day to prepare. Chitlins gained popularity in the 1800s among slaves in the southern United States, yet another example of slave owners taking the best cuts of pig meat and slaves making due with less desirable parts, such as intestine. Look for chitlins in a plastic tub in your grocer's freezer or meat case.
Things You'll Need
- 2 bowls
- Chef's knife
- Stock pot
- Apple cider vinegar
- Assorted vegetables
- Creole seasoning
- Red pepper flakes
- Assorted spices
- Slotted spoon
Cleaning the Chitlins
Place a colander into your kitchen sink. Dump the chitlins from the bucket into the colander and allow them to drain well.
Place a large bowl in the other side of the sink. Place the drained chitlins in the bowl and fill it with enough water to completely cover them. As an alternative to soaking the chitlins in water, you can soak them in regular or apple cider vinegar to help mask the strong odor.
Pick the chitlins out of the soak water one at a time by hand. Clean each chitlin thoroughly under cold running water. Pick out any feces, dirt and debris with your fingers from the inside and outside. Cut any spots and excess fat from the chitlins with a chef's knife, and place them in a second bowl filled with clean, cold water. Drain the first bowl, wash it and fill it with clean, cold water.
Repeat the process until the chitlins are properly cleaned; they're ready to cook when the soak water runs clear. Drain them in a colander.
Cooking the Chitlins
Pour cleaned chitlins from the colander into a stock pot and fill it with water.
Bring the chitlins to a boil over medium-high heat. Drain them through a colander and rinse them under cold running water. Pour the chitlins back into the boil pot; add clean cold water to the cover. Return the pot to a boil over medium-high heat.
Cut the onion into quarters, slices or diced cubes and add it to the chitlin pot. The onion helps to add flavor to the chitlins while also helping to mask the strong smell.
Pour apple cider vinegar in the pot to taste, using approximately 1/2 cup of vinegar for every 5 pounds of chitlins.
Add your choice of diced vegetables to the pot, such as garlic, potatoes, celery, green pepper and celery.
Season the broth with a Creole seasoning blend and red pepper flakes to taste, using no more than about 1 teaspoon of each seasoning for an 8-quart pot of chitlins. Add other spices, such as black pepper, salt and a bay leaf, to taste. Stir all ingredients well.
Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce the heat to a low boil over medium-low heat. Cook for about 3 to 4 hours or until the chitlins appear white or clear in color.
Remove the boil pot from the heat. Scoop the vegetables and bay leaf from the chitlin pot with a slotted spoon and discard.
Cut the cooked chitlins into 1 to 1-1/2 inch pieces and return them to the pot. Pour most of the liquid from the chitlins, leaving about 1 cup or just enough to line the bottom of the pot
Reheat the chitlins through over medium-low heat; remove them with a slotted spoon, and serve.
Tips & Warnings
- Chitlins are commonly served along with dishes such as collard greens, beans, cornbread and fried chicken. To make them truly authentic Louisiana chitlins, douse them in a generous amount of hot sauce.
- Chitterlings or chitlins must be cleaned thoroughly to prevent bacteria infections such as gastroenteritis and salmonella poisoning. It may be necessary to soak, rinse then soak the chitlins multiple times to thoroughly clean them.
- What's Cooking America?: Chitterlings/Chitlins Recipe - History of Chitterlings/Chitlins
- Epicurious: Chitterlings
- Soul Food and Southern Cooking: You Gotta Love Those Chitterlings and Hog Maws
- AllRecipes.com: Creole Chitterlings (Chitlins)
- St. Cloud State Sociology: Chitterlings: An Exotic Taste for the Cultural Soul
- Kenyon College North by South: The Almighty Pig