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Chitterlings (//; sometimes spelled as pronounced: chitlins or chittlins) are usually the small intestines of a pig, although the intestines of cattle and other animals are sometimes so named when used as a foodstuff. Chitterlings are eaten in most parts of the world.
Chitterling is first documented in Middle English by the Oxford English Dictionary, in the form cheterling, c1400. Various other spellings and dialect forms were used. The primary form and derivation are doubtful.
A 1743 English cookery book The Lady's Companion: or, An Infallible Guide to the Fair Sex contained a recipe for "Calf's Chitterlings" which was essentially a bacon and offal sausage in a calf's intestine casing. The recipe explained the use of calf's, rather than the more usual pig's, intestines with the comment that "this sort of ... puddings must be made in summer, when hogs are seldom killed". This recipe was repeated by the English cookery writer Hannah Glasse in her 1784 cookery book Art of Cookery. It has also been the subject of a song by 1970s Scrumpy and Western comedy folk band, The Wurzels.
As pigs are a common source of meat in many parts of the world, the dish known as chitterlings can be found in most pork-eating cultures, as well as in dog-eating cultures. Chitterlings made from pig intestines are popular in many parts of Europe, where they are also used as casing for sausages. Chitterlings made from pigs are still occasionally eaten in the southern U.S. Consumption of chitterlings is uncommon today in the developed world, and is usually associated with poverty and in the black community. Thomas Hardy wrote of chitterlings in his novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles, when the father of a poor family John Durbeyfield talks of what he would like to eat:
Kokoretsi, kukurec, or kokoreç, are usually prepared and stuffed then grilled on a spit. In Muslim countries such as Turkey and in Greece lamb intestines are widely used. In Anatolia the intestines are often chopped and cooked with oregano, peppers, and other spices. In Poland, chitterlings are called Flaczki and served in soup, with carrot and pieces of chicken.
Gallinejas are a traditional dish in Madrid. The dish consists of sheep's small intestines, spleen, and pancreas, fried in their own fat in such a manner that they form small spirals. The dish is served hot, often with French fries. Few establishments today serve gallinejas, as it is considered to be more of a speciality than a common dish. It is most commonly served during festivals.
Zarajo: A traditional dish from Cuenca is zarajo, braided sheep's intestines rolled on a vine branch and usually broiled, but also sometimes fried, and sometimes smoked, usually served hot as an appetizer or tapa. A similar dish from La Rioja is embuchados, and from the province of Aragon, madejas, all made with sheep's intestines and served as tapas.
Tricandilles are a traditional dish in Gironde. They are made of pig's small intestines, boiled in bouillon then grilled on a fire of grapevine cane. It is considered an expensive delicacy.
Andouille is another kind of French chitterlings sausage found especially in Brittany.
People in the Caribbean and Latin America eat chitterlings. Chinchulín (in Argentina and Uruguay) or chunchule (in Chile) (from the Quechua ch'unchul, meaning "intestine") is the cow's small intestine used as a foodstuff. Other name variations from country to country are caldo avá (Paraguay), choncholi (Peru), chunchullo, chinchurria or chunchurria (Colombia), chinchurria (Venezuela), tripa mishqui (Ecuador) and tripa (Mexico).
Chitterlings are also eaten as a dish in many East Asian cuisines.
In the Philippines, pig intestines (Filipino: bituka ng baboy) are used in dishes such as dinuguan (pig blood stew). Grilled intestines are known as isaw and eaten as street food. Chicken intestines (isaw ng manok, compared to isaw ng baboy) are also used. Pig intestines are also prepared in a similar manner to pork rinds, known locally as chicharon. Two distinct types of these are called chicharon bituka and chicharon bulaklak, differing in the part of the intestine used.
In Korea, chitterlings (Gop-Chang) are grilled or used for stews (Jun-Gol) in Korea. When they are grilled, they are often accompanied by various seasonings and lettuce leaves (to wrap). Stew is cooked with various vegetables and seasonings.
Chitterlings are carefully cleaned and rinsed several times before they are boiled or stewed for several hours. A common practice is to place a halved onion in the pot to mitigate what many regard as a very unpleasant odor that can be particularly strong when the chitterlings begin to cook. Chitterlings sometimes are battered and fried after the stewing process and commonly are served with cider vinegar and hot sauce as condiments.
In colonial times, hogs were slaughtered in December. When slavery was practiced in America slave owners commonly fed their slaves as cheaply as possible. At hog butchering time, the best cuts of meat were kept for the masters and the remainder, such as fatback, snouts, ears, neck bones, feet, and intestines, given to the slaves.
In 2003 the Smithsonian Institution's Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture accepted the papers of Shauna Anderson and her business, The Chitlin Market, as part of its emerging collection of materials about African American celebrations, foods and foodways.
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Disease can be spread by chitterlings not cleaned properly and undercooked. Pathogens include E. coli, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Salmonella. Chitterlings are often soaked and rinsed thoroughly in several different cycles of cool water, and repeatedly picked clean by hand, removing extra fat, undigested food, and specks of feces. They may then be turned inside out, cleaned and boiled, sometimes in baking soda and/or salt, and the water discarded.