Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chitlins

From Chitlin Strut.com

"I am not a Chitlin' eater;
But a Chitlin' eater's son.
Someone else can eat de Chitlin's
'til de Chitlin' eater comes."

Chitlins [aka chitterlings] are a traditional southern dish. i am a southerner, but substitute the word daughter for son and the "I Am Not A Chitlin Eater" poem applies to me. my mom, her siblings and friends enjoyed the dish. As a child i was repulsed by the smell but fascinated by my mother's skill at preparing this soul food staple.

Anyone who has ever made or watched others do so can tell you making chitlins is extremely labor intensive from start to finish. This dish most definitely will do some damage in the kitchen. Though they can be from any animal, chitlins are traditionally pork intestines. Even if you are using store bought chitlins, that is to say you have not had to dress the hog yourself [i had a childhood friend who had relatives who butchered their own hogs], preparation involves thorough cleaning i.e. checking for and removing any debris, plus excess fat that would still be on the entrails and several rinsings before during and after that has been done.

In all, from start to finish the entire process takes about 4hrs to 5hrs, 2-3 of those being the cooking time. Boiling is the usual method but they may also be broiled, baked, sauteed or fried. Some cooks will opt for an overnight soaking in vinegar, salt, and cold water when cleaning has been completed and then cooking afterward.

Some cooks also opt not add water for the boiling, preferring instead to only use the meat's natural juices and adding an onion or garlic to the chitlins while they cook. This supposedly not only eliminates the intestines' odor but flavors them as well. i do not recall if my mom's recipe used onion or garlic. i do remember her boiling the intestines for 2-3 hrs, seasoning with salt and pepper, then when cooking was completed flavoring with hot sauce, and white vinegar and seasoning with black pepper.

Smithfield Chitlins

Chitlins CookingChitlins Cooked

[From Wikipedia] "Chitterlings ~ "ˈtʃɪtlɪnz/ sometimes spelled chitlins or chittlins in vernacular) are the intestines of a pig, although cattle and other animals' intestines are similarly used, that have been prepared as food. In various countries across the world, such food is prepared and eaten either as part of a daily diet, or at special events, holidays or religious festivities."

"In the United States, chitterlings are an African American culinary tradition and a Southern culinary tradition sometimes called "soul food" cooking. In vernacular terms, chitterlings are often pronounced as chit'lins."

"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 pungent, 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."

History ~ "In colonial times, hogs were slaughtered in December. During slavery, in order to maximize profits, slave owners commonly fed their slaves in the cheapest manner possible. At hog butchering time, the preferred cuts of meat were reserved for the master's use. The remains, such as fatback, snouts, ears, neck bones, feet, and intestines were given to the slaves for their consumption."

"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."

Food safety caution ~ "Care must be taken when preparing chitterlings, due to the possibility of disease being spread when they have not been cleaned or cooked properly. These diseases and bacteria include E. coli and Yersinia enterocolitica, as well as Salmonella. Chitterlings must be 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. The chitterlings are turned inside out, cleaned and boiled, sometimes in baking soda, and the water is discarded. The chitterlings can then be used in a recipe."

From Recipes by Kay G. Jones

Chitlin [Chitterlings] Recipe

5 lbs Chitterlings
1 Thick Slice Green Pepper
1 Small Onion Peeled/Halved
2 To 3 Garlic Cloves
1/2 Red Hot Pepper Pod
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

Place cleaned chitterlings in pot. Do not add water [they make their own].

In a cheesecloth bag, combine green pepper, onion, garlic cloves and red pepper pod. Place in pot, along with salt and 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar for every 5 pounds of chitterlings. Bring to gentle boil. Reduce and simmer until fork-tender, possibly around 2 1/2 hours. Remove cheesecloth bag and serve.

Text Credit: Wikipedia Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Image Credits: Flickr Flickr Flickr

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