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Chitterlings

Chitterlings, affectionately known as chitlins, is not a dish for the faint of heart. The mild taste of this quintessential soul food is hard to describe, and it’s nothing like it smells when cooking. The finished product is oh so good, especially when you serve it with vinegar and hot sauce next to collard greens, fried chicken, and cornbread.

Chiltins with collard greens and cornbread in a white bowl

Not everyone gets excited at the thought of eating pig intestines. But that’s not the way it is at my house. And I was astounded to find out that it’s a trendy New Year’s Eve dish.

Chitterlings Go Way Back

Now you know we can’t claim the prize for being the first to learn how to cook this delicacy. African, European, and Asian versions outdate the typical soul food version. In fact, some of the best I’ve eaten were in a Chinese restaurant. But people have been fighting to overcome adversity for millenniums, so here is another example of ingenious ways to use what rich people won’t eat.

Chitterlings in a white bowl with cornbread and bay leaves in the background

The Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients you'll need to make chitterlings
  • Chitterlings: Chitlins can indeed be hard to find. Try your local Latin or Asian market, and if you can’t find them there, ask a butcher to save them for you. You’ll need twice as many as you want to serve because they’ll shrink.
  • Seasonings: This part is crucial because tripe doesn’t have much flavor on its own. My faves are onion, garlic, thyme, red and green bell peppers, celery, bay leaves, chicken bouillon, and my own homemade Creole seasonings. Yes, of course, you can adjust them to your tastes.
  • Vinegar: The acidity disinfects, improves the smell, and is an excellent flavor-enhancer. Some people soak the chitlins in vinegar before cooking, and others put it in the pot while they’re cooking. I do the latter because I clean them very well before starting.
  • Hot Sauce: Collards and chitlins are both better with hot sauce. I don’t mind adding it to the pot, but most serve it on the side. Hot pepper flakes work, too.

How to Make Chitterlings

How to make chitlins-clean them, saute onion and garlic, add veggies and simmer.
  1. Thoroughly wash chitterlings and remove any excess fat. 
  2. Next, cut the chitterlings into small pieces (1-2 inches), put them in a medium-sized pot, and add about 2 cups of water to cover them—Cook on high for about 1 hour.
  3. Pour the chitterlings into a colander to drain and discard water. Rinse them thoroughly.
  4. Rinse the pot well and place it over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of cooking oil, the onion, garlic, and thyme, and saute for about a minute. Then add bell peppers and celery, and saute for another minute.
  5. Next, add the chitterlings, bay leaves, bouillon, Creole seasoning, apple cider vinegar, and water. Give everything a nice stir, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cover the pot and place it over medium-high heat. Cook for about 2-3 hours until chitterlings are tender. Keep checking the pot to make sure the water hasn’t cooked out; add more as needed.

How to Clean Chitterlings

Get yourself a stool if needed and make yourself comfortable because this will take about 20-30 minutes.

First wash:

How long it takes depends on your chitlins’ condition when you buy them. 

  1. Soak the chitterlings in cool water (in the kitchen sink or a tub) with a spoonful of baking soda or vinegar for a couple of minutes.
  2. Remove the fat and anything else that doesn’t belong.
  3. Dunk them up and down for a few minutes in the water.
  4. Drain excess water and put the chitterlings in a bowl. 
  5. Discard dirty water, and rinse the sink or tub.

Second wash: Fill the sink with fresh cool water (no baking soda this time), and go through the same process. Drain the chitterlings and put them in a bowl. Your water should look cleaner on the second wash. Discard the dirty water and rinse the sink or tub.

Third wash: Repeat the second wash. Your water should be clearer than before when done. If you think your water could be even cleaner, go ahead and do it a fourth time.

Recipe Tips

A bowl full of freshly cooked chitterlings with cornbread in the background
  • Chitterlings are done when they tear apart easily when pulled.
  • I can’t emphasize enough that you have to clean chitlins well and then clean them again.
  • Whether to pre-boil or not is a huge controversy, and I know I’m going to get some slack for it. But hey, better safe than sorry, and I find that boiling chitlins first, throwing out the water, and boiling them again in fresh water works for me.
  • Onions are vital for chitlin success because they really do improve the smell. It may seem odd, but maybe it’s because onions overpower it.

Storage Instructions

  • You can keep raw chitterlings in the fridge for two days and the freezer for about three months.
  • Cooked chitterlings have a grace period of up to four days in the fridge and three months in the freezer.

Recipes to Serve With Chitlins

A serving of prepared chitlins
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5 from 4 votes

Chitterlings (Chitlins)

Chitterlings, or chitlins, is a classic soul food hard to describe, and it's nothing like it smells when cooking. The finished product is oh so good, especially when you serve it with vinegar and hot sauce next to collard greens, fried chicken, and cornbread.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 4
Calories 325kcal
Author Imma

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds chitterlings, clean extra well!!
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 large stalk celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, adjust to taste

Instructions

  • Thoroughly wash chitterlings and remove any excess fat.
  • Next, cut the chitterlings into small (1-2 inch) pieces and put them in a medium-sized pot, then add about 2 cups of water to cover them—Cook on high for about 1 hour.
  • Pour the chitterlings into a colander to drain and discard water. Rinse them thoroughly.
  • Rinse the pot well and place over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of cooking oil, the onion, garlic, and thyme, and saute for about a minute. Then add bell peppers and celery, and saute for another minute.
  • Next, add chitterlings, bay leaves, bouillon, Creole seasoning, apple cider vinegar, and water. Give everything a nice stir, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cover pot and place pot over medium-high heat. Cook for about 2-3 hours until chitterlings are tender. Keep checking the pot to make sure the water hasn't cooked out; if so, add more.
  • Serve with red pepper flakes or hot sauce.

Notes

  • Chitterlings are done when they tear apart easily when pulled.
  • You can replace the hot pepper flakes with hot sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 325kcal
Recipe Rating




Ms. She

Friday 23rd of September 2022

O.M.G WOW I have to give credit where it's due. I don't know if anyone have actually tried this but it is absolutely divine. I got my chitterlings from Save Mart (now you know where to go) and did exactly what the recipe said and it was absolutely to die for. I was going to wait till I finished eating to give a comment but couldn't wait. So with that being said thanks for this recipe and happy eats!

Brandi Crawford

Tuesday 27th of September 2022

We're so glad you enjoyed the recipe!

Darrelle

Tuesday 28th of June 2022

Thanks for this recipe it’s perfect

Adele

Tuesday 22nd of March 2022

How does one clean the chits? Saw them in a few Chinese restaurants and they were simply cut into tubes. It looked like fat, and a lining of sorts was in the chit' tube. Not an appetizing appearance at all! Please share the correct and healthy manner these delights s/be cleaned.

Imma

Friday 1st of April 2022

Hi Adele,

I have updated the post with detailed instructions on how to clean it .

Hope this helps.

Joyceb

Wednesday 16th of March 2022

I love them but can hardly stand as long as it takes to clean them. Found out about Aunt Bessie’s which has really made it easy for me to clean them. Could not find them for my New Years dinner this year. Thank you for your recipe. Love all of them👍🏾

Marion

Wednesday 16th of March 2022

Imma! I HATE the labor of cleaning them...I LOVE them! I would NEVER have thought to use the veggies that YOU use and NOW I am curious as to how they taste. I usually use a 1 whole potatoe & onion to cut down the smell (to NO avail). I'm NOT going to make them again until Easter, that's the LAST time I make them for the year. I'll send a message when I do. BTW...I use a LOT of your recipes & they NEVER fail. It's also nice to see THIS in your recipes! YOU GO GIRL!

Imma

Wednesday 16th of March 2022

Woohoo! Thanks for trying my recipes, Marion . So happy to hear it has been working well for you.