Thank you for being a friend.
gizzards braised in white wine over cheddar polenta with herbs
Tracy was my best Southern friend in New York and is now my best Southern friend in Los Angeles. Last week, to say thank you, I made him a pot of chicken gizzards. It would be the first time he touched one in three decades.
His daddy was the family's lone gizzard eater. He enjoyed them dredged in flour and deep-fried. While this is a fine preparation—indeed the only one I knew until recently—I've found there are other ways to showcase their distinct flavor and texture.
That evening, I braised the gizzards in white wine with olives and garlic, sliced them thin, and topped them with herbs. With the help of lavash, Armenia's famous flatbread, converts were made of Tracy and his husband Patrick. Perhaps one or both of the recipes below will make their way to the Georgia side of the Okefenokee the next time he does. I have a feeling his father would like them.
White Wine Braised Gizzards with Olives
1/2 pound chicken gizzards
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup of homemade chicken stock (water or more wine can be used as a substitute)
8 or more black olives, halved
at least 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
a few fennel fronds, chopped
wedge of lemon or lime (optional)
Soak the gizzards in water for at least thirty minutes before cooking. Dry with paper towel. Season with salt, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. In a small cast iron skillet or sauce pan, sauté the garlic in olive oil over low heat. Add gizzards and cook for a few minutes, being sure to turn them over from time to time. Add the olives, half of the parsley, and fennel fronds. Pour in the white wine and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, add the chicken stock and butter. Cover and let stew, stirring occasionally. After the first hour and a half they should be there or close to. Check the tenderness of the gizzards with a fork or do what I do and cut off a piece to test for doneness. Pablo prefers an especially tender gizzard so this could take up to two hours. I don’t mind a somewhat chewier gizzard which takes less time. Adjust the seasoning, give them a squeeze of fresh citrus, if using. Garnish with chopped herbs.
These will go very well with cheddar polenta/grits, mashed root vegetables, or bread of any kind.
gizzards on homemade sourdough bread with herbs, red onion, garlic confit, and pickled daikon
Crockpot Gizzards Confit
1/2-1 pound of chicken gizzards
1 pint of duck fat (can be substituted with another animal fat or olive oil)
6 or more garlic cloves, peeled
This is an easy one. Soak the gizzards in water for at least thirty minutes before cooking. Dry with paper towel. Season with salt, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. You can use a heavier hand here. Put gizzards, garlic, and thyme in your slow cooker, cover with fat. Cook at high, when the fat begins to simmer turn the dial to low. Within two hours you will have perfectly tender gizzards. If you prefer yours to have a bit more chew—sometimes I do—cook them for a shorter period of time. Taste and season to your liking.
These gizzards are fantastic over greens, served with roasted potatoes, on their own, and also over toast. Fresh herbs, pickled vegetables, and dijon mustard suit them well. They'll keep well covered in fat. Do not forget to eat the garlic.
If you do not have a slow cooker, they can be cooked on the stove, covered, at very low heat. Check them periodically for texture.