When it comes to poultry, most of us are familiar with the traditional cuts like breasts, thighs, and drumsticks. However, there's a lesser-known part of the chicken that holds a treasure trove of flavors and textures waiting to be explored – the chicken gizzard. Often overlooked and misunderstood, chicken gizzards are the unsung heroes of the culinary world that needs to make an appearance in your meal plans and here we'll explore what makes them special.
What are Chicken Gizzards?
Chicken gizzards are a part of the chicken's digestive system, specifically the muscular stomach located near the bird's throat. Like other birds, chickens don't have teeth to chew their food. Instead, they rely on their gizzards to help break down and grind the food they consume, allowing for easier digestion.
The gizzard is a thick, muscular organ that contains grit and small stones ingested by the chicken. When the bird eats, these grit and stones mix with the food inside the gizzard, acting as natural "teeth" to grind and crush the food into smaller, more digestible particles.
What Do Gizzards Taste Like?
Chicken gizzards have a unique taste and texture that sets them apart from other parts of the chicken. When cooked, gizzards become tender but retain a slight chewiness that many people find enjoyable. The taste is rich, savory, and slightly gamey, with a subtle earthy flavor.
Additionally, the way you prepare chicken gizzards can influence their taste. When cooked in stews or soups, they tend to absorb the flavors of the accompanying ingredients, enhancing their overall taste. On the other hand, frying or grilling gizzards can bring out a delightful crispiness while maintaining their characteristic flavor.
Nutritional Value of Chicken Gizzards
Chicken gizzards are not only tasty but also packed with essential nutrients. Here is the approximate nutritional value of cooked chicken gizzards (per 3.5 ounces or 100 grams):
- Calories: 154 kcal
- Protein: 21.2 grams
- Fat: 5.4 grams
- Cholesterol: 536 mg
- Carbohydrates: 0 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Sugars: 0 grams
Benefits of Gizzard
Chicken gizzards are a rich source of high-quality protein. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, supporting immune function, and maintaining healthy muscles, skin, and hair.
Gizzards are a good source of iron, a crucial mineral that plays a vital role in oxygen transport throughout the body. Iron is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to tissues and organs.
They are a significant source of zinc, an essential trace mineral involved in various bodily processes, including immune function, wound healing, and DNA synthesis.
This meat cut is rich in vitamin B12, a water-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in maintaining nerve function, synthesizing DNA, and producing red blood cells.
Chicken gizzards contain phosphorus, which is vital for bone health, energy production, and maintaining proper pH levels in the body.
Chicken gizzards are virtually carbohydrate-free, making them a suitable choice for those following low-carb or ketogenic diets.
Gizzards offer a decent amount of nutrients with relatively low caloric content, making them a nutrient-dense food choice.
Gizzard vs Giblets
Gizzard and giblets are both parts of poultry, typically chicken or turkey, but they serve different purposes. The gizzard is a muscular, thick-walled organ in the digestive system of birds that grinds food with the help of small stones or grit they ingest, aiding in digestion. On the other hand, giblets refer to the edible internal organs of poultry, usually including the liver, heart, gizzard, and sometimes the neck. While the gizzard is a specific organ involved in digestion, giblets encompass various organs that can be used in cooking for flavor and texture enhancement in dishes like gravies, stocks, and stuffings.
How to Prep and Cook Chicken Gizzards
Cleaning the Gizzards: Start by cleaning the gizzards thoroughly. Rinse them under cold running water and remove any excess fat or debris. You can also use a knife or kitchen shears to trim away any tough membranes.
- Soaking (Optional): Some people like to soak chicken gizzards in cold water with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice for about 30 minutes to an hour. This step can help tenderize the gizzards, but it's optional.
- Peeling the Inner Skin (Optional): Chicken gizzards have a thin, translucent inner skin that some find tough. To remove it, gently peel it away from the gizzard using your fingers. This step is also optional, as some people prefer to leave the inner skin intact.
There are several delicious ways to cook chicken gizzards:
- Stewing: Stewing gizzards with aromatics, vegetables, and flavorful liquids like broth or wine can result in tender and flavorful dishes. You can add herbs and spices of your choice for added depth.
- Frying: One of the most popular methods is to fry chicken gizzards until they become crispy on the outside while remaining tender on the inside. Coat them in seasoned flour or breadcrumbs before frying for extra crunch.
- Grilling or Barbecuing: Chicken gizzards can be threaded onto skewers and grilled or barbecued for a smoky and delicious treat. Marinating them beforehand can infuse them with additional flavors.
- Braising: Braising chicken gizzards in a flavorful liquid at a low temperature can make them exceptionally tender and flavorful.
- In Soups and Stews: Gizzards can be a tasty addition to soups and stews, adding a unique taste and texture to the dish.
Note: Ensure that the gizzards are cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure they are safe to eat.
What can you use Chicken Gizzard for?
Soups and Stews: Chicken gizzards can be added to soups and stews to impart a rich, savory flavor. They can be simmered with vegetables, herbs, and spices to create hearty and comforting dishes.
Fried or Grilled Snacks: One of the most popular ways to enjoy chicken gizzards is by frying or grilling them. They can be coated in seasoned flour or breadcrumbs and cooked until crispy on the outside while remaining tender on the inside, making them a delicious snack or appetizer.
Skewers and Kabobs: Chicken gizzards can be threaded onto skewers and grilled or roasted with vegetables to create flavorful and juicy kabobs.
Braised Dishes: Braising chicken gizzards with a flavorful liquid, such as broth or wine, can result in tender and succulent dishes.
How to Store Chicken Gizzards
If you plan to use the gizzards within a day or two, store them in the refrigerator. Place the gizzards in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag to prevent any odors from spreading to other foods.
Make sure the container or bag is properly sealed to keep the gizzards moist and prevent them from drying out.
If you don't intend to use the gizzards within a couple of days, it's best to freeze them to prolong their shelf life. Place the portions in freezer-safe, airtight containers or resealable plastic bags, and remove as much air as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn.
When properly stored, chicken gizzards can last in the freezer for up to three to four months without a significant loss in quality. However, for the best taste and texture, it's ideal to consume them within one to two months.
Where to Buy Chicken Gizzards
You can get Chicken Gizzards at your nearest local Supermarkets, it essential to source for quality meat cuts to ensure the best experience when cooking. If you're in the UK and looking to order fresh quality chicken gizzards why not try our African Grocery Store for quality gizzard and other groceries
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How long does it take to Cook Chicken Gizzards?
When frying chicken gizzards in hot oil, it typically takes around 10 to 15 minutes to cook them until they are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. When boiling chicken gizzards, it usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes for them to become tender.
Chicken gizzards are a fascinating and often overlooked part of poultry that add substance to any meal in a unique way. Gizzards bring a delightful texture and rich flavor to a variety of dishes. So, next time you're at the market, consider picking up these remarkable morsels of meat.