Gizzards, The Gateway Organ Meat

Have you ever wondered how animals without teeth chew up their food, especially hard foods like grains? They actually have an internal grinding apparatus, called the gizzard.

Gizzards Birds, earthworms, some fish, snails and slugs all have gizzards — crocodiles and  alligators do also, even though they have teeth. Small stones in the gizzard help grind up tough and hard-to-digest food before passing it into the stomach.

Bird gizzards are lined with a tough layer made of a carbohydrate-protein complex called koilin, to protect the muscles in the gizzard.

Gizzards are surprisingly nutritious, with more B12 than red meat and a good source of minerals like iron, zinc and selenium.  They are powerhouses of choline and cholesterol, making them excellent for baby food, as babies have a very high requirement for these nutrients to support the growth of the nervous system. And that tough gizzard muscle becomes very tender with cooking, making them the perfect gateway organ meat.

Per 100 g  APPLE CARROTS RED MEAT GIZZARD EGG  YOLK CHICKEN LIVER
PHOSPHORUS 6 mg 31 mg 140 mg 148 mg 390 mg 299 mg
IRON .1 mg .6 mg 3.3 mg 2.5 mg 2.7 mg 9.0 mg
ZINC .05 mg .3 mg 4.4 mg 2.7 mg 2.3 mg 2.5 mg
COPPER .04 mg .08 mg 0.2 mg .04 mg .08 mg 0.4 mg
VITAMIN B2 .02 mg .05 mg 0.2 mg 0.2 mg 0.5 mg 1.8 mg
VITAMIN B6 .03 mg .1 mg .07 mg 0.1 mg 0.4mg .72 mg
VITAMIN B12 0 0 1.84 mcg 1.2 mcg 1.9 mcg 16.6 mcg
VITAMIN C 7 mg 6 mg 0 3.7 mg 0 18 mg
VITAMIN A 0 0 40 IU 64 IU 2300 IU 34,000 IU
VITAMIN D 0 0 8 IU ? 1400 IU 370 IU
VITAMIN K 0 0 2.5 mcg ? 35 mcg 9.5 mcg
CHOLINE 3 mg 7 mg 38 mg 104 mg 820 mg 290 mg
CHOLESTEROL 0 0 78 mg 537 mg 1085 mg 631 mg

GIBLET GRAVY
Giblets are the viscera of a fowl, which includes the gizzards.  While your chicken or turkey is roasting, simmer the gizzard, neck, heart and liver in 4 cups water with a little vinegar, 1 bay leaf and a teaspoon of peppercorns. Strain the stock and allow the giblets to cool.  Remove the fine meat from the neck and chop everything very finely.

Make gravy by stirring unbleached white flour into the drippings over a medium flame.  Stir until well amalgamated and the flour browns a little.  Add the stock and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk to smooth out any lumps.  If the gravy is too thick, thin with a little water; if the gravy is too thin, boil, stirring frequently, until the gravy reduces and thickens. Stir in the chopped giblets and season to taste with salt. When you eat the chicken (with the skin, of course) plus this nutritious gravy, you are eating the whole animal!


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FRIED CHICKEN GIZZARDS
Serves 4

1 pound chicken gizzards, rinsed
2 sticks celery, cut into chunks
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup lard, for frying


Place the chicken gizzards, celery, onion, bay leaves and peppercorns in a saucepan, and add enough water to cover the gizzards by 1 inch. Bring the gizzards to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Pour in more water during simmering, if needed, to keep gizzards covered. Remove the gizzards to a bowl, discard the celery and onion, and reserve the broth.

On a plate, mix the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, ground cumin and Italian herb.  Pat the gizzards dry and cut each into 2-3 pieces.  Toss them with the buttermilk, then dredge each in the flour mixture.  Fry in batches in the lard, either in a cast iron skilled or a small deep fryer. Remove to a platter lined with paper towels and keep warm until all the pieces are fried.

GIZZARD SOUP
Serves 4

½ pound gizzards, cut very small
4-6 slices bacon, cut very small
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
½ cup dry white wine or dry sherry
4 quarts homemade chicken broth
½ cup wild rice
1 cup heavy cream or crème fraiche
sea salt and pepper to taste
chopped chives for garnish

In a heavy saucepan, saute the bacon to render the fat.  Add the gizzards and onion, and saute until golden.  Add the dry white wine or sherry and bring to a boil.  Add the chicken broth and wild rice.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for about 2 hours or until the gizzard pieces are cooked through.  Stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper.  Ladle into heated soup dishes and garnish with chopped chives.

PUREED GIZZARD FOR BABY
Place 2 gizzards in water and bring to a simmer.  Simmer, covered, for about 2 hours or until the gizzards are very tender.  Remove and chop fine.  Puree in a baby food maker, moistening with a little water or stock to make a smooth puree.  At the last minute, blend in a little softened butter and a generous pinch of salt.

The Weston A. Price Foundation is committed to providing accurate information about the nutritional needs of women who are pregnant and breastfeeding, and babies as they grow.  Your membership supports the work we do.

Author: Sally Fallon Morell

Sally Fallon Morell is best known as the author of Nourishing Traditions®: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. This well-researched, though-provoking guide to traditional foods contains a startling message: animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the diet, necessary for normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels.

5 thoughts on “Gizzards, The Gateway Organ Meat”

  1. I love chicken gizzards. And they’re cheap. $3.50 a pound. I get them whenever I see organic. Two or 3 pounds at a time. Cook them up as I would chicken except for about three hours. They take a long time to get tender. Then I’ll add them to my broth bowls like chicken. The broth from the gizzards, which just covers them in the pot, always gels. So there must be plenty of collagen in them as well. They take on the flavor of any spice you use. Very versatile.

  2. We raise our own chickens for eggs and sometimes butcher them. As I write this I have one of our chickens (including the feet) simmering on our stove…but I didn’t realize the gizzard was good to eat! Thank you for this information.

  3. Thank you for the recipes!!! I love fried chicken gizzards but never knew how to cook them properly! I always just breaded them and fried and they were always tough. Now I know! I looked in your book, Nourishing Traditions for chicken gizzards and there are not recipes for them in there! I don’t know why gizzards were left out but I’ll print these off and they will be in my book! Thank you again!

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