Chitterlings (play /ˈɪtlɪnz/; sometimes spelled chitlins or chittlins in vernacular) are the intestines of a pig 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.

Chitlins in broth.



Chitterling is a Middle English word for the small intestines of pigs, especially as they are fried or steamed for food.[1] A 1743 English cookery book The Lady's Companion: or, An Infallible Guide to the Fair Sex contained a recipe for 'Calf's Chitterlings', and so the term 'chitterling' could be applied to any intestine, not just those of pigs.[2] The recipe explained the use of calf's intestines in the recipe, which was similar to black pudding (ie the intestines were stuffed) with the comment that "these sort of ... puddings must be made in summer, when hogs are seldom killed."[3] This recipe was repeated by the English cookery writer Hannah Glasse in her 1784 cookery book Art of Cookery.[4]

Distribution, different traditions

As pigs are a common source of meat throughout the world, the dish known as chitterlings can be found in most pork-eating cultures. Chitterlings are popular in many parts of Europe, where pig intestines are also used as casing for sausages. 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:

"Tell 'em at home that I should like for supper, – well, lamb's fry if they can get it; and if they can't, black-pot; and if they can't get that, well, chitterlings will do."

The Balkans, Greece, and Turkey

Kokoretsi, kukurec, or kokoreç, are usually prepared and stuffed then grilled on a spit. In Muslim countries like Turkey, lamb intestines are widely used as is the case in Greece where pork is uncommon. In Anatolia the intestines can be chopped and cooked with oregano, peppers, and other spices[5].


Gallinejas are a traditional dish in Madrid. The dish consists of sheep's small intestines, spleen, and pancreas, fried in their own grease in such a manner that they form small spirals. The dish is served hot immediately after preparation, and is often accompanied by french fries. Few establishments today serve gallinejas, as it is considered to be more of a delicacy than a common dish. It is most commonly found served during festivals.

Zarajos: A traditional dish from Cuenca is zarajos, which are simply sheep's intestines rolled on a vine branch and usually broiled, but also sometimes fried. They are 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 serves 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.

Latin America

People in the Caribbean and Latin America also make use of it in traditional dishes such as mondongo. They are also a popular street food in many South American cities and towns.

Chinchulín (in Argentina and Uruguay) or chunchule (in Chile) (from the Quechua ch'unchul, meaning "intestine") is a dish made from the cow's small intestine. Other name variations from country to country are choncholi (Peru), chunchullo, chinchurria o 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, it is usually barbecued and called as "Isaw".


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.

United States

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.


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. With the remains, such as fatback, snouts, ears, neck bones, feet, and intestines given to the slaves for their consumption.[6]

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.[7]

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.


  • Gargantua and Pantagruel written in 1532 by the Renaissance author Rabelais describes an adventure of Pantagruel, involving a tribe of Chitterlings in book 4, chapter 35.
  • In the movie Glory Road, about the shocking season of the 1966 Texas Western basketball team and its multiracial roster, several of the white players attend a house party largely made up of black people with their black teammates. During the party a black player is surprised to see a white player eating chitterlings. Once he tells the him what he's really eating the player is speechless for a moment.
  • Gil Scott-Heron's famous piece, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", mentions figures such as "General Abrams and Spiro Agnew" eating "hog maws confiscated from the Harlem sanctuary..."
  • The Joe Cuba Sextet's song, "Bang Bang," contains the refrain, "corn bread, hog maw and chitlins [chitterlings]." [8]

See also


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary entry
  2. ^ The Lady's Companion: or, An Infallible Guide to the Fair Sex (1743) T. Read, London, Digitized by Google Books [1]
  3. ^ The Lady's Companuion p. 310 - Chitterlings
  4. ^ Hannah Glasse (1784) The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy [2]
  5. ^ "Kokorec Recipe". Retrieved 2011-04-27. 
  6. ^ "Fried Chitterlings (Chitlins) and Hog Maws". The Chitterling Site. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  7. ^ Trescott.
  8. ^ Gonzalez, David, "Mourning Joe Cuba, a Bandsman Whose Legacy Was Joy", The New York Times, February 19, 2009

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Chitterlings — in Brühe Chitterlings (nach der Aussprache auch chitlins geschrieben, seltener euphemistisch Kentucky Oysters (dt.: Austern Kentucky Art)) ist ein Gericht des Soul food. Der gekochte Schweinebauch und darm gilt als prägendes Gericht für Soul food …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Chitterlings — Chit ter*lings, n. pl. [Cf. AS. cwi[thorn] womb, Icel. kvi[eth], Goth. qi[thorn]us, belly, womb, stomach, G. kutteln chitterlings.] (Cookery) The smaller intestines of swine, etc., fried for food. [1913 Webster] || …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • chitterlings — early 13c., cheterlingis entrails, souse, origins obscure, but probably from an unrecorded O.E. word having something to do with entrails (related to O.E. cwið womb; Cf. Ger. Kutteln guts, bowels, tripe, chitterlings ). Variants chitlins (1845)… …   Etymology dictionary

  • chitterlings — [chit′linz; ] occas. [ chit′ər liŋz΄] pl.n. [ME chiterling, entrails, souse; akin to MLowG kūt, soft parts of the body, Ger kutteln, chitterlings < IE base * geu , to bend > COD2] the small intestines of pigs, used for food, usually fried… …   English World dictionary

  • chitterlings — or chitlins noun plural Etymology: Middle English chiterling Date: 13th century the intestines of hogs especially when prepared as food …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • chitterlings — /chit linz, lingz/, n. (used with a sing. or pl. v.) the small intestine of swine, esp. when prepared as food. Also, chitlings, chitlins. [1250 1300; ME cheterling; akin to G Kutteln in same sense] * * * …   Universalium

  • chitterlings — noun small pig intestine, boiled and fried. Sometimes prepared with hog maws. Syn: chitlins, chitlings …   Wiktionary

  • chitterlings — chit|ter|lings [ˈtʃıtəlıŋz US ər ] n also chit|lings [ˈtʃıtlıŋz]chit|lins [ lınz] [plural] the ↑intestine of a pig eaten as food, especially in the southern US …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • chitterlings — chit|ter|lings [ tʃıtərlıŋz ] or chit|lins [ tʃıtlınz ] noun plural a pig s INTESTINES (=tubes that carry food from the stomach out of the body), eaten as food …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • chitterlings —  is the formal name of the dish made from pig’s intestines, but it is often more informally spelled chitlins …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

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