Sep 12, 2013

The Offal Truth About Chicken Gizzards

Chicken Gizzards with Mushroom Gravy
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Poultry gizzards are a popular food throughout the world. In Japan gizzards are served yakitori style, marinated and grilled, then served with cold beer. In Portugal, stewed gizzards are eaten as a snack. Grilled chicken gizzards are sold as street food in Haiti and through Southeast Asia. In Hungary it is cooked with paprika. In France, duck gizzards are eaten in a salad. Gizzards are also used in traditional New Orleans gumbo. Elsewhere in the South, where I grew up, chicken gizzards are considered soul food, fried or stewed with gravy and served with grits or mashed potatoes (see photo above). 

Here on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, we enjoy simple living and eating. Because of Hawaii's ethnic mix you can find things in our grocery stores and farmers' markets that you may not know what to do with. I'm talking about things like turkey tails, pig's liver, and tripe, sometimes known as innards or offal. One of those is chicken gizzards. 

I have seen local Hawaiians serve chicken gizzards pan fried with a crispy panko bread crumb coating and served as pupus. However the slow cooked Philippine style adobo chicken gizzards, served the traditional way with steamed rice, is mighty good. The offal truth about chicken gizzards is that they are actually very tasty if prepared correctly. Here are a few recipes for you to try:

Chicken Gizzards with Mushroom Gravy
This is the way I grew up eating chicken gizzards as a child, then considered to be soul food. Try this easy and inexpensive recipe, I think you will like it.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
8 fresh button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 pound chicken gizzards, quartered
salt and pepper to taste
1 (10 1/2 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 1/2 ounce) can of water
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary, chopped fine (optional)

Procedure:
Place oil, onions, and celery in a large frying pan. Saute the onions and celery until translucent. Add sliced mushrooms, garlic, and the cut up chicken gizzards. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, or until the gizzards are no longer pink, then add salt and pepper to taste. Add the mushroom soup and water, and the fresh rosemary, if using, stir and cover. Simmer on low heat for about 1 1/2 hours or until the gizzards are tender and the soup thickens to a thick gravy (you may need to remove the cover along the way to allow the gravy to thicken). After about 45 minutes of cooking, add the paprika and stir into the gravy. Serve hot over mashed potatoes or grits/polenta, with a side of collard greens, kale, or Swiss chard, making this a perfect, soulful meal. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken Gizzard Adobo
Ingredients: 
1 pound chicken gizzards
water (enough to cover and pre-cook gizzards)
6 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 cup chopped onion
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 to 1 1/2 cups celery, diced into small bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon peppercorns
2 tablespoons sugar
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup cider vinegar (or Filipino cane sugar vinegar)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 cup water
1/8 teaspoon crushed chili pepper (optional)

Procedure:
Wash gizzards and cut each into 4 pieces. Put them in a pot, cover well with water, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse. Clean pot and return gizzards to it.

Add all remaining ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1-1/4 hours until gizzards are tender. Serve warm with plenty of steamed rice. Makes about 4 servings. Note: Many people enjoy the addition of the chicken giblets, hearts, and/or chicken livers to this recipe.

Hawaiian Fried Chicken Gizzards
Chicken gizzards can be tough and chewy if not prepared correctly, but this recipe makes for great pupus (appetizers). 

Ingredients:
1 pound chicken gizzards, cut in half
water to cover
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 to 3 cups canola oil for frying

Ingredients for coating mix:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon paprika, sweet mild
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 egg
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Procedure:
Place gizzards into a medium saucepan, and cover with water by about an inch. Add salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and boil, covered, until tender. Check after about 45 minutes, and if they are not tender, continue to cook in about 15 minute increments, testing after each.

When tender to your liking, remove from heat and let cool. Whisk the egg and milk together in a bowl, set aside. Mix the coating ingredients in a pie plate or other shallow container. Heat the frying oil in a 10 to 12" skillet over medium high heat. (It needs to be hot (375°F) but not smoking)

Remove the gizzards from the liquid and place in the bowl with the egg mixture. Stir until gizzards are all coated and then remove from egg and dip into crust mixture, making sure they are well coated.

Carefully place the coated gizzards into the hot oil and turn the temperature down to just above medium. Fry until golden on one side, turn and fry on the other side. (Since they are already cooked, this will not take as long as actually cooking them) Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain, sprinkle with additional salt if needed. Let cool slightly and serve with a sweet slaw, or pickled Maui onions. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken Gizzards, Hungarian Style
This is a delicious recipe. If you don't like gizzards, substitute pieces of dark meat chicken like thighs, wings, and drum bones.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 pound chicken gizzards, quartered
3 garlic cloves
1 cup green pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped or 1 cup tomato juice
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cups sour cream

Procedure:
Fry onion in oil or butter till light yellow. Reduce heat and rapidly stir in paprika. Add chicken gizzards, cut into quarters, salt and brown. Add garlic, crushed or chopped. Add only enough water to braise, not boil. Cover and simmer until tender, stirring occasionally. When meat softens, add green pepper, tomato and a bit more water or stock. While simmering a few more minutes, blend flour and sour cream together. Add to stew, stirring, till thickened. Serve with asparagus or green beans, and rice or noodles. Makes 4 servings.

Yakitori Style Sunagimo,
Grilled Chicken Gizzards Kabobs

Yakitori is a Japanese dish prepared with succulent pieces of chicken dunked in a delicious barbeque sauce and grilled over a hot charcoal fire. Yakitori is a popular street food very similar to shish kebab. It is sold in take-out eateries and street side food kiosks across Japan. Yakitori is not only prepared from tender chicken pieces but also from chicken organ meat. ‘Zuri’ or ‘sunagimo’ is the term given to yakitori prepared from gizzards.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup rice wine or sake
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons freshly peeled and grated ginger
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper, crushed finely
2 garlic cloves, minced finely
1 pound chicken gizzards
5 green onions cut into chunks
cooking spray
10 inch bamboo skewers

Procedure:
Place a small saucepan over a medium heat. Once the saucepan become hot, pour a quarter cup of good quality sake or rice wine into it. Next add a quarter cup of low sodium soy sauce, two tablespoons of freshly grated ginger, three tablespoons of sugar, a quarter teaspoon of finely crushed dried red pepper and two cloves of finely minced garlic. Allow the ingredients to come to a boil while stirring them with a wooden spoon all the while. Continue cooking the ingredients till they have reduced to one fourth of the original amount. This should take approximately 3 minutes. Remove the saucepan with the ingredients from the heat. Allow the ingredients to cool down completely.

In a large bowl pour the reduced soy sauce mixture. Now add the chicken gizzards. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place the bowl inside the refrigerator. Allow the chicken pieces to marinade in the soy sauce mixture for one hour. After an hour, remove bowl containing the marinated chicken from refrigerator.

Take long skewers (10 inch in length) and thread the marinated chicken pieces and onion chunks alternately. Heat a large grill pan. Coat the grill with cooking spray. Once the pan is nice and hot place the kebabs over it. Brush the kebabs with excess soy sauce mixture.

Cook the kebabs for four minutes on each side. Serve with sushi and mugs of cold beer. Makes 2 servings.
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