Queenella brand chitterlings are sold in a 5-lb package labeled "triple-cleaned" and "ready-to-eat," but they will need additional cleaning to ensure safety and good flavor. Chitterlings, usually pronounced "chitlins," are the small intestines of a hog. They are considered "soul food," or traditional African-American fare. You may cringe at the thought or smell of this dish, but it is important to remember the history of soul food. Slave owners gave the poorest quality food ingredients to slaves, who were forced to make due. Carrying on the tradition of soul food celebrates the pride and respect of African-American ancestors. Chitterling are high in fat, but also high in protein. Because of the high fat content, they should only be enjoyed on special occasions.
Thaw the pork chitterlings in the refrigerator overnight in a large covered pot of water.
Cut chitterlings into 2-inch sections with a sharp knife. Clean the chitterlings thoroughly, inside and out, with a small, soft food brush, scrubbing away any particles you see. Peel away and discard as much fat as possible.
Wash the chitterlings under cold, running water, scrubbing each piece clean with your hands. Repeat washing six times.
Combine the water, onions, garlic, bay leaves, apple cider vinegar, salt, hot sauce and black pepper in a large pot. Add the cleaned chitterlings to the pot.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for three to three and a half hours, or until the chitterlings are tender.
Remove from heat and drain well. Serve with hot sauce and vinegar, if desired.
Consider cooking and cleaning chitterlings outdoors, if possible, to avoid bothering people with the strong odor.
Serve with corn bread, fried chicken and collard greens for a complete soul food meal.
Some recipes call for chitterlings to be sauteed or fried after boiling. Skipping this step will save on fat and calories.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, "bacteria in raw chitterlings or pig intestines can cause severe diarrhea, especially in infants. Chitterlings, commonly called chitlins, may contain the Yersinia bacteria. The bacteria are spread from raw chitterlings by hands or by eating or drinking contaminated food or liquids." Extreme cleanliness must be practiced when preparing chitterlings. Wash hands and surfaces thoroughly, discard any waste immediately, and do not prepare or store raw chitterlings near baby food or formula.