Pronunciation: [CHIHT-lihnz; CHIHT-lingz]

Popular in American Southern cooking, chitterlings are the small intestines of freshly slaughtered pigs. The word itself comes from the Middle English a derivative of the Old English cieter ("intestines"). And, although properly called "chitterlings," the more common usage is chitlins, the casual version of which is chitts; slang terms include Kentucky oysters and wrinkled steak. Chitlins must be thoroughly cleaned in order to remove all fecal matter and bacteria. This labor-intensive process, which requires turning the intestines inside out, can take hours. Once cleaned, chitterlings must be simmered until tender (2 to 3 hours), a process that emits a detestable stench. They can then be broiled, barbecued, added to soups, battered and fried or used as a sausage casing. Chitlins have a chewy texture and an extremely high fat content (24 grams per 3-ounce serving). See also variety meats.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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