Offal, Not Awful: The Gustatory Delight Of Gizzards

Pastured gizzards on rice

If you’re unfamiliar with the gizzard, it’s a muscular organ, part of the digestive system in poultry that essentially “chews” food for a bird (no teeth, remember?) by grinding it up between muscle wall and against grit contained in the gizzard. Pretty cool, huh? Oh, and, properly prepared, it’s delicious.

If you’re grossed out by offal on principle, you may want to look away now. Assuming that you’re the more adventurous type, you’re still here because you’re interested in how I prepared these pastured gizzards so that they came out melt-in-your mouth tender. Right, tender – gizzards don’t have to be chewy!

I used to cook gizzards low and slow in my slow cooker, and they came out remarkably tender. While I really enjoyed the results of that method, it took a long time.

Enter the Instant Pot: the end result is the same, but it takes a lot less time to get there. Pressure cooking renders even the toughest meat soft and scrumptious. Frankly, I couldn’t wait to try cooking these gourmet gizzards in my Instant Pot.

First things first, though: gizzards must be cleaned, and well. The interior of the organ is lined by a very tough, yellowish membrane that needs to be completely removed. I like to clean the gizzards while I’m processing the bird, making a cut down the side of the gizzard that extends into the middle and opening it up – similar to butterflying a shrimp. This exposes the inner membrane and any material inside the organ (like grass, grit, etc.). I then carefully grasp the outer edge of membrane and peel it away. Typically, it releases with minimal effort (ideally, in a single piece), but sometimes it peels away in small pieces. Be sure to get every bit – the membrane is tough and bitter, if cooked. After the membrane is removed, I rinse the gizzard thoroughly. Now, it’s ready for cooking!

Who doesn’t like a recipe that’s easy and comprised of simple ingredients? I know I do. Basically, put the clean gizzards (include hearts, too, if you have them) into the pot, add a cup of liquid (I prefer homemade bone broth), herbs and/or spices (as desired), close, cook on Manual for 25 minutes, and allow to release naturally. They come out tender and so good.

I like to ladle the cooked gizzards and pot liquor atop rice or noodles (cauli rice or mash would also work well for a low-carb option). If you like a bit of spice in your food, top with Sriracha or Tabasco sauce. A side of kimchi goes nicely with these, too. Another option, if you prefer them fried but still want to retain that tenderness from the pressure cooking, would be to pressure cook them first, then bread them and “fry” them in an air fryer or a deep fryer.

Bottom line: don’t be intimidated by what may be unfamiliar, like gizzards. If you have a reasonable number of them, they can be the basis of a very satisfying meal. And using as much of an animal as possible is a no-brainer.

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