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Chitterlings are eaten by cultures across the globe as an effort to put every part of each cow or pig to good use. While chitterlings, or "chitlins," are small or large intestines of a pig, many South or Central Americans have expanded the range in a dish called chunchullo, or chunchurria, which employs thin slices of pig, lamb, cow or even poultry — char-grilled, fried or stewed. Preparing chunchullo requires a steady stomach and some basic ingredients for building flavor like cumin, salt, pepper, food coloring called annatto, chili pepper, garlic and vinegar.
This dish goes by several names, depending on the area in South America where it is made. In Colombia, it is chunchullo or chunchurria. In Chile, the dish is called chunchule; in Uruguay or Argentina it is called chinchulin. Other names range from choncholi in Peru to tripa in Mexico.
Though many names are used to describe it, chunchullo is straightforward and easy to make. Some regional variations exist, but the basic method entails a few rudimentary cooking processes. First, the intestines, also referred to as tripe, is sliced thinly. If sliced too thick, the meat will be too tough. Then, a marination process is applied, which will help to remove even more of the dish's inherent rubbery texture.
In Peru, intestinal pieces rest overnight with several key ingredients. Chefs use enough vinegar to cover the slices in a bowl, and then add seasonings like minced garlic, powdered chili pepper, salt, pepper and cumin. A chili paste also must be either bought of prepared in advance. This will be used to baste the meat as it grills.
A simple chile paste can be made by cutting some dried chiles in half, length-wise, and then washing away all the seeds. After soaking in saltwater for at least a day, the chilis are then ground into a paste. Many add some lard or butter as well as some coloring like annatto. The chef is then ready for grilling, though stewing or frying are other fairly common cooking options. When grilling, both sides of the chunchullo should take on a deep brown coloring. This coloring can be intensified by basting with the chili paste, not just once at the beginning, but several times.
Government public health organizations often warn that intestines should be thoroughly cleaned before marination and cooking. Otherwise the potential for bacterial infections like salmonella and yersinia increases, particularly for small children. This cleaning involves boiling them in water for at least five minutes and rinsing them thoroughly after going under the knife.
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