A couple of months ago I had a free weekend, so I decided to head north to visit the fam. Specifically, to visit Grandma. She gets lonely sitting in the nursing home even though Mom and everyone else tries to pop in on her as often as they can. If I’m away too long, Grandma starts to bug Mom about whether I’ve called or not. So, it just makes everyone’s life easier when Grandma is happy. I don’t mind though, she keeps me on my toes.
Unfortunately, Lindz wasn’t available for this trip (Grandma wasn’t happy about this, she likes it when Lindz visits). But just to let Lindz know what she was missing out on (food-wise, that is), I sent her a picture of a snack I cobbled together out of the fridge.
Lindz was amused, she sent back a picture of pizza rolls and juice and told me that I was missing out. Although, I did get the impression that she didn’t feel like she was missing out on anything with my snack.
I’m not entirely sure when my love of chicken gizzards came about, but I do know I’ve been eating them since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. When I was growing up we often ate meals over at Grandma Bert’s and Grandpa Nick’s place since they were only a mile down the road. Very often we would have fried chicken because it was cheap and good. Thank you Mom for raising chickens all these years. Given that seven plus people were eating (depending on who showed up), getting the piece of chicken that you wanted made international politics look trivial. Several tried and true tactics emerged though. There was seniority. “Don’t take the pope’s nose (the tail), that’s Grandma’s.” Getting there first, a la “I claim this land in the name of Spain!” This usually applied to the wings. The “let your little sister go first, ” or the baby of the family tactic. The unspoken agreement: “I’ll let you take the heart all the time if you leave the gizzard alone.” That would be me and Chell. Yes, we descended and devoured yard birds like a pack of wild, starving hyenas, but, hey, that’s family. As you may have noticed, the “normal” cuts of chicken aren’t the ones we usually fight over. People “settled” for the breast or the drummie or the thigh.
From last year’s butchering of chickens, Mom separated the hearts and gizzards and froze them separately. I’m not sure why she didn’t save the livers. A month or so ago, I swiped a chicken and a chunk of the heart/gizzard mixture. As usual, I tried to save my home cooking that tends to gross people out for the times that Lindsay is working evenings.
First we begin with the innards:
Again, as usual, I decided to go with a pan frying approach since I knew I was going to be the only one who would be eating this. Though I did offer some when Lindz came home. Because I couldn’t think of a better approach, I went with a simple wash and flour coat.
After a couple of quick dunks, into the frying pan they went.
I did end up having to finish everything off in the oven because my breading was getting close to burning and the gizzards do take a while to cook through. When in doubt, serve potatoes. Especially if you can make chicken gravy.
I know a lot of people can be put off by the idea of eating hearts and gizzards, but they really are good. The heart tastes just like thigh. It’s a little drier, because there’s no fat. But if it is not over cooked, you would never notice. The gizzard I can understand if people don’t like. There is no fat here either, so it can get dry quickly and you definitely know you are biting through something when you eat it. Not that the meat is tough, it is just a really dense muscle. The connective tissue part (the white part in the first photo) is without a doubt chewy. But for some reason that is one of the appeals for me, so I never bother to cut it off. As Andrew Zimmern likes to say, “If it looks good, eat it!”