This week: Chicken Gizzards served up by Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles.
The Ick Factor: People fear what they do not know, and most have only a passing acquaintance with gizzards. Gizzards are muscular second stomachs of birds that contain gritty stones to help them pulverize food in lieu of teeth. You may better associate them with the yearly ritual of pulling a sack of innards from the cavity of a Thanksgiving turkey.
While most home cooks know this mysterious sack has something to do with gizzards, they might be hard pressed to identify what's in that mess of giblets. Boiling, chopping and plopping these bits into the gravy boat is as close as some get to chowing down on gizzards. Not exactly a regular occurrence, but congratulations, you've probably had them in the Thanksgiving gravy and never even known. Not that they need to be masked and forgotten, because gizzards are good all on their own.
(bite into all the juicy details after the jump)
The Offal Choice: The Backwoods platter from the soul food (and chicken) connoisseurs at Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles. Deep fried chicken gizzards are piled high atop a bed of rice and smothered in onions and gravy.
Tastes Just Like: Any other deep-fried, dark meat chicken on the menu. Except instead of having to gnaw on a chicken bone like a manimal, you are rewarded with a pile of tender, boneless, skinless, dark meat chicken nuggets. Nuggets that just happen to be gizzards. Of course, you'll never really know what mechanically separated part of the chicken goes into most nugget products (nor would you want to), so take comfort in the fact that these gizzards are chicken legit.
Since gizzards are muscles used day in and out to grind bird chow, they are a very tough cut of meat that can end up overly chewy if not properly prepared. The texture of stewed and fried gizzards is also similar to dark meat chicken, managing to be tender while retaining a light chewiness that springs a bit when eaten.
The fried chicken gizzards at LoLo's were prepared to perfection, fork-tender and obviously stewed well ahead of time to unleash moist and succulent chicken meat (disguised as a gizzard). After a quick flash fry, the gizzards were served atop a bed of white rice and smothered in scrumptious gravy (I could drown my sorrows in a boat of this stuff) and grilled onions. The serving size was more than enough to satisfy a ravenous appetite, and a cold sweet tea was perfect for washing it all down.
You Know It's Cooked Improperly When: You question whether it's a chicken gizzard or a rubber band you're chewing. Pressure cooking or sustained simmering of the gizzards will help eliminate this questionable rubbery texture. This is also the perfect place to introduce extra flavor to the gizzards as they tenderize, and be sure to reserve that left over chicken stock for later.
Always been a DIY-er? You might have to hit up an ethnic markets or your local meat man for some gizzards. While I've seen chicken livers for sale in commercial grocery stores, I have yet to spy gizzards for purchase in either the fresh or frozen section. When in doubt, ask the butcher to steer you in the right direction. After procuring your gizzards, whip up some Gizzards Two Ways to really expand your horizons.
Know of some offal we have to try? Leave the details in the comment section.