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How to Cook Chitterlings

Chitterlings made from pig intestines are a popular food in many parts of Europe and the United States. There are various ways to cook chitterlings. Also, a few precautions need to be taken while cooking them.

Did You Know?

In the olden times, chitterlings or chitlins, were a main source of food for slaves. The slave owners would cut the hog and take the best parts for themselves and give the unwanted parts to the slaves. The unwanted parts were the pig snout, ears, intestines (chitterlings), feet, neckbones and skin.
Chitterlings are a popular food in many parts of the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America, Western Asia, and Europe. They are also known as chitlins. They are the intestines usually of pigs, but can also be of animals like cattle or veal.
They are considered a delicacy by some while others take it as a comfort food. In the Southern United States, people consider chitlins as a soul food. It is used in traditional dishes like Mondongo in Caribbean and Latin America.
The French call this dish as les tricandilles. They are also used as casings for sausages. Chitlins are mainly popular among majority of African-American families and served during Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year's dinner parties.


There are various ways of making chitterlings. Some of them are mentioned here.
5 lbs. prepared chitterlings
1 to 2 cups flour, as needed
1 cup oil (add more if needed)
Pan-fried Chitterlings: Place already prepared chitterlings on paper towels. Coat them with flour. Place chitterlings in skillet of already heated oil. Fry them till they become lightly browned and crispy. Drain on paper towel and serve warm.
Deep Fat-fried Chitterlings: Dip boiled chitterlings in beaten egg, and after this in crushed saltine cracker. Fry in deep hot fat (375 °F) until brown.
Chitlins are usually dipped in mustard and other spicy condiments prior to deep frying. Many people like to have fried chitlins with salsa and tortillas.
1 ½ tsp. peppercorns
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 stalk of celery
1 medium to whole onion
1 white potato, washed and peeled
10 lbs. chitterlings
3 lbs. hog maws (pig's stomach)
Thaw chitterlings in warm water. Take care that the water is not very hot to cook the chitterlings. After thawing enough, start cleaning it. Remove all fat skin and foreign matter that is present. Rinse them well until they are completely cleaned. Repeat the same thing with hog maws.
Now keep the cleaned chitterlings and maws in a cooking vessel, boil for around 50 minutes, and pour off this water. Following this, cut the chitterlings and maws, cover with water, add celery, peppercorns, potato, and salt. Simmer for around six hours.
Remove and discard the celery, potato, and peppercorns as their sole purpose is to absorb the pungent smell of the chitlings.


10 pounds frozen cleaned chitterlings, thawed
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. minced garlic
Soak the chitterlings in cold water during the cleaning process. They should be examined and run under cold water. All foreign materials and excess fat should be removed. Chitterlings should retain some fat. After cleaning each chitterling, soak in two cold water baths for a few minutes.
The second water should be clearer. Place the chitterlings in a 6 quart pot, and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil, and add onion, salt, garlic and red pepper flakes. Make sure the water is boiled before adding seasonings or else the chitterlings will become tough.
Simmer for about four hours, depending on the degree of tenderness you want. Serve with white beans, spaghetti or turnip greens. Also pass the vinegar and hot sauce.

Tips and Precautions

Thaw chitterlings in the refrigerator. Enfold the container with raw chitterlings in plastic cover before keeping it in the refrigerator.
You can buy pre-cooked chitterlings or use raw ones. If you use raw ones, boil them for five minutes before cleaning and cooking. This will make the cleaning easier and will also kill the pathogenic bacteria harboring in the chitterlings, which can cause diarrhea.
Other food-borne pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli can also be present. If there is no time to boil, cool, clean and cook, then clean them with hot water instead of cold water. After that, rinse in several changes of cold water.
Keep boiling and simmering chitterlings until they are thoroughly cooked and become tender.
Chitlins need to be immersed in water while cooking, otherwise they tend to become dry.
Chitterlings give off a pungent odor while boiling. So adding potatoes, celery and peppercorns can help remove the smell.
Wash hands well with soap and warm water for a full 30 seconds before and after the preparation of chitterlings.
Wash utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot soapy water after cooking each food item.
Countertops, equipment, utensils, and cutting boards can be sanitized by applying a solution of one tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in one gallon of water. Pour and spread the bleach solution into the surface and allow it to stand for sometime. Rinse with clear water and dry with clean paper towels.
Keep children or infants out of the kitchen when cooking chitterlings to prevent infections and diseases.
Chitlins are rich in a wide range of nutritional elements including proteins, vitamins, selenium content, and minerals including zinc, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium. However, they are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Therefore, the excess fats need to be removed before cooking.

 Sharmistha Sarkar

Markus Winkler