Aside from wings and breasts, gizzards are also a popular part of the chicken. They’re a staple ingredient in many cultures’ cuisines, with each having its own way of cooking the delicious meat.
In Southern cuisine, crispy fried chicken gizzards are served together with celery and ranch sauce at large parties and gatherings. Meanwhile, the gizzard is better known as a delicious street food in many parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. Mexico also makes one of the tastiest chicken gizzard soups you could ever hope to enjoy.
Almost every culture has its own take on the delicious gizzard. However, what exactly is a chicken gizzard? In this article, we’ll explain everything there is to know about the famous chicken part. We’ll also show you how to prepare the chicken parts so you can serve them as your next filling meal.
What Are Chicken Gizzards?
Gizzards are organs made out of tough muscles found in a chicken’s stomach. In fact, they’re a lot like stomachs in that they look and work the same. They’re even located in a similar part of the chicken’s body.
What Do Chicken Gizzards Do?
What’s the function of a gizzard? All birds (including, of course, chicken) don’t have teeth. So, how exactly do they “grind” their food? It’s actually the job of the gizzard to do all that for them!
When chickens eat from the ground, these birds usually pick up bits of gravel and debris. All these materials travel through their digestive tract and eventually end up in the gizzard.
When the bird eats its meal, the gizzard uses all that gravel and debris to grind the food. Once it’s broken down, the food continues on into the chicken’s stomach.
- Gizzards help the chicken digest food by grinding it up using debris material the bird picked up from the ground.
- It acts and looks something like a “second stomach”.
If that’s what a gizzard is, then do humans have one? Since we bite and ‘grind our food, we naturally don’t have gizzards一only birds and certain animals do. These include crocodiles and alligators, earthworms, and certain sea animals. However, it’s mostly chicken and turkey gizzards that are used in cooking meals as they are indeed tasty.
Where Is It Located And What Does It Look Like?
If you’re trying to harvest fresh gizzard from a whole chicken, then you can find these muscled organs at the end of its intestines, at the back or rear part of the stomach.
What Do Gizzards Taste Like?
These second stomachs have a unique taste, similar to the flavor of dark chicken meat. A gizzard’s taste is deep and rich, and, because it’s made of muscles, tougher than the other chicken parts.
In fact, it’s the muscled organ’s texture that really sets it apart from other meat or poultry parts. The texture can range from chewy to almost tough and rubbery. But when prepared the right way, the gizzard can be very tender.
Gizzards vs. Giblets: What’s the Difference?
Many confuse gizzards with giblets and even use the two terms interchangeably. However, you’ll soon find out how the two differ from one another.
What are Giblets?
Giblet is more of an umbrella term used to refer to the edible organs of butchered poultry, like chicken and turkey. Giblets usually include the gizzard, heart, liver, neck, and other similar organs. So, you could say that gizzards are actually a kind of giblet!
Like the gizzard, giblets are often used in various recipes and dishes. Its most popular use is to make delicious giblet gravy, stuffing, and even soup. The different flavors of heart, gizzard, liver, and kidneys bring a rich, distinct taste to these dishes, making giblets well-loved.
Amazing Health Benefits of Chicken Gizzard
Aside from being tasty, you’ll be surprised to know that chicken gizzards are actually healthy. In fact, they’re brimming with all kinds of nutrition! Here are some of their known health benefits:
- High In Protein – the gizzard is one of the most protein-rich food you can eat. Just one cup is enough to meet 88% of your body’s daily protein needs. Protein is important because it helps develop and repair the tissues and muscles in your body. They’re also an essential source of energy!
- Low Fat – if you’re on a low-fat diet, then gizzards are a great option for you. These chicken parts are low in fat content, making them ideal for those hoping to lose weight.
- Rich in Vitamins and Minerals – gizzards are rich in all kinds of important vitamins and minerals. The chicken organs are rich in vitamin A, B12, and C. They’re also loaded with minerals like iron, copper, magnesium, and manganese.
- Zero Carbs and Low Calorie – chicken gizzards are also carb-free and low on calories! Without oil or butter, the chicken parts are less than 100 calories.
As for nutrition facts, 1 cup of cooked chicken gizzard has:
- 223 calories
- 44 grams of protein
- 4 grams of fat
- 1 gram of saturated fat
How To Cook Chicken Gizzards Until They’re Tender
So, how does one cook chicken gizzard until it’s the right amount of tender and chewy? Since these organs are made of tough muscles, the best way to cook them would be slowly, in low heat. The method often used to cook these muscled organs is called braising.
Braising is a cooking method that combines both searing and slow but steady cooking. The meat’s surface is first lightly seared to achieve a golden-brown color. Then, a small amount of liquid (be it water, wine, or even beer) is used. The liquid, along with the low but fixed heat, work together to tenderize the meat.
Bottomline: Braising cooks the chicken gizzard slowly in low heat, allowing the organ’s muscles to loosen up and become softer. Frying them fast in a hot pan will do the exact opposite. It will make the muscles and tissues tighten up, turning the texture into an unpleasant, leather-like quality.
The best temperature for cooking gizzard is in a range between 180 and 205 degrees F. Keep in mind that chicken gizzard should never be boiled since this turns them tough and leathery.
Slow cookers are also great tools for braising gizzard. You can leave them on low heat and go about on your day. Although, keep in mind that this may take a couple of hours to finish depending on the model you have.
How will you know when the gizzards are done cooking? They’ll be ready for serving once they’ve become firm to the touch.
Do You Have To Clean Gizzards Before Cooking?
Do you have to clean chicken gizzard before cooking it for lunch or dinner? The answer: it depends.
If you bought the muscled organs at the nearby grocery, then it’s likely that they’ve already been cleaned. However, if you’re buying from a local butcher or farmers market, then ask them to clean the organs for you. They might charge extra for this, but don’t worry! You can easily do this yourself.
How To Clean Chicken Gizzard
So, how do you properly clean chicken gizzards? Whether you’re harvesting gizzards from the chicken itself or buying them from local markets, it’s important you clean these organs.
Remember that they contain bits of gravel and debris which they use to grind the chicken’s food. These materials are far from edible and must be removed prior to cooking.
- Rinse the chicken parts to remove excess blood and other undesirable residues with running water.
- Cut them in half, lengthwise. Slice all the way through until you have two separate pieces.
- Once you’ve cut them in half, you will see the inside of the gizzard. Under running water, rinse the insides of all the debris material you can find. This can take a couple of minutes to do.
- To make sure all the dirt is removed, use your fingers to rub the organs’ insides. This helps you see if there’s any unwanted material left. Keep scrubbing softly until all the dirt is gone.
- Once it’s clean, you’ll see a yellowish lining inside the organ. Trim it away by making a small cut at the side. After that, continue to peel away the lining until all of it’s removed.
Note that sometimes the insides of the gizzard may appear black or brown because of the debris material. As long as you’ve made sure they’re properly cleaned, then this shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
Chicken Gizzard Recipes You Can Try At Home
Now you know how to properly cook and clean chicken gizzards. What are some tasty recipes can you try to make at home?
- Fried gizzards are a staple in Southern cuisine, but so is delicious Southern Dirty Rice. This wonderful dish is packed with flavors of chicken giblets, from gizzards to liver, and broth. Toss in some cayenne pepper and green onions and you’ll see why it’s a Louisiana classic.
- Gizzard is also used in a lot of gumbo recipes. This Chicken and Seafood Gumbo dish uses chicken breast. However, you can also toss in some wonderful gizzard to add even more flavor.
- Countries in Southeast Asia also serve the muscled organ barbecued. You can do that too in this Chicken and Zucchini Yakitori Recipe. Instead of just using chicken thighs as the recipe instructs, you can use some scrumptious gizzard too.
How To Store Chicken Gizzards
There are proper ways to store chicken gizzard in order to avoid spoilage. When buying from grocery stores, make sure to buy them last so they remain fresh until they reach your own fridge at home.
Don’t forget to place them in a disposable bag that’s leak-proof, so that it doesn’t affect other food. When storing in the refrigerator, make sure that the temperature is around 40 degrees and below. Use them immediately, or at least 1 to 2 days from buying.
You can also store the chicken organs in the freezer. This extends their shelf life for much longer. However, it’s best that they be used within 4 months of buying.
Where To Buy Chicken Gizzards
You can buy the chicken organs almost anywhere! Commercially, they’re sold at supermarkets and grocery stores. There, you’ll find them in the butcher section. They’re also sold at butcher shops and farmers markets.
Gizzards are one of the tastiest parts of the chicken. Various cultures have their own take on this muscled organ, from deep-fried to slow-cooked. They’re an excellent source of nutrients and are easy to prepare and cook. Serve these tasty organs for a satisfying meal!