Due to my total obsession with getting my thesis done, my partner Ross has been doing more than his fair share of the cooking. His most recent dish is jambalaya, which he makes with sausage and okra.
Recently Ryan Adams
in his Offal of the Week post for Eat Me Daily
wrote about gizzards. Sausage, okra and gizzard jambalaya immediately came to mind, even though I had never actually cooked a gizzard. A container of chicken gizzards at my local big box store cost $1.00 and were very easy to locate. Finding the gizzards was the easy part, next came cooking.
After looking into some recipes, these tough little pieces of fowl obviously needed to be cooked for a long time. The gizzard is a muscle in the neck of most fowl that is used to pulverize their food, (most fowl do not have teeth) and because they are doing the work of teeth they get to be pretty tough. My solution: braising.
The plan is to add the already braised gizzards to the jambalaya with the sausage and okra during the final cooking stages. Therefore the gizzards needed to be braised by the time they were added to the jambalaya.
First I rinsed the gizzards under cold water to clean off some of the blood. Then with a sharp knife I cut the gizzards into smaller pieces. Gizzards often come intact, which means they are shaped like an 'O', I separated the knobs of meat into smaller bundles. My idea was that this would allow the gizzards to cook faster.
Next, I seasoned them with coarse salt and some cracked black pepper, and added the seasoned gizzards to oil heated in a dutch oven. Once they were seared I added a mug of water and a few dried chilis. Tragically I had no stock on hand. Once my liquid was up to a gentle simmer I covered the whole mess with a lid and it sent in a 325 degree oven.
An hour and a half later the gizzards were tender. I placed the gizzards and the now flavorful cooking liquid in a container to wait for Ross to cook his jambalaya.
Ross was adamant about tasting any additions I wanted to put in his jambalaya. He found the gizzards a tad livery but mild enough to be an acceptable addition to his dish. I think the gizzards tasted far more like a chicken thigh than any liver I had ever tasted.
Dinner was delicious. The sausage and okra were a perfect pair as usual, and the gizzards seemed to slip pretty easily into the mix. I'm looking forward to getting back to eating nose to tail more regularly. I miss my kitchen terribly and Ross is quickly becoming a better cook than me, which distresses my ego.
I would heartily recommend trying out braised chicken gizzards, I have a feeling they would crisp up nicely in a pan with some oil after they're braised. Experiments for another post.