Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Chicken Giblets for Breakfast

High on my list of personal foibles is my lack of fortitude when it comes to dealing with chicken organs.

You know what I'm talking about--the little bag of body parts--neck, heart, gizzard, liver--that comes with the chicken, usually stuffed inside the cavity. Our farmer friend Brett takes great pains to include a Ziploc bag with chicken parts when he sends one of his chickens with our weekly CSA box. I carefully remove the bag, place it in a small bowl and put it in the refrigerator with a promise to myself that I will--this time--find a use for my chicken offal very soon, to make good on all the work that went into harvesting them.

Days pass. I glance at the bowl of chicken parts each time I open the refrigerator. The promise to myself turns into guilt. I try to put giblets out of my mind, pretend they're not there. But soon they take on a metaphysical weight--a real presence in my thoughts--like something out of an Egar Allen Poe story. The beating chicken heart...

Eventually, my wife will complain of an odor eminating from the refrigerator. I pretend to not know what it is, and bury the chicken parts in the trash at the first opportunity when no one is looking. At this point, the guilt has become HUGE.

Well, I just hate to waste food and I keep telling myself that I will never collect enough chicken necks to make a stock. By now, if I had saved all those necks, I would have enough a couple times over. So this week after receiving another chicken from Brett, and the bag of organs, I was more determined than ever to make good use of them. Since I know no one else in the family will have anything to do with chicken offal, I decided to have giblets for breakfast with some of Brett's pastured eggs.

Here's what I did: First, place the neck in a freezer bag to finally start your collection. Put the bag in the freezer. Nex, cut the gizzard and heart into small pieces and sautee them in a hot skillet with extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper. When they are cooked through, spoon them onto a plate and set aside. Now cook the liver in the same skillet, either whole or cut into two pieces. Be sure to brown it on all sides. When that is cooked through, remove it to a cutting board and when it is cool enough to handle, cut it into small pieces.

Let the skillet cool a bit off the heat, then return it to the burner set to moderately-low and pour two farm-fresh eggs, beaten, into the skillet where the eggs can pick up all the brown bits off the bottom. Scramble the eggs as you normally would, mixing them around with your favorite usensil, and when they're about half-way cooked add the chopped giblets and mix them well with the eggs. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Serve this immediately on a warm plate, perhaps with a piece of toasted, rustic bread. If you have any leftover giblet gravy in the fridge, now would be a good time to use that as well. We had some fresh chervil in our CSA box this week, so I chopped some of that to garnish the eggs.

I happen to like strong, gamey flavors, so this is a dish I could easily wake up to on a more regular basis. But my advise is, do this early in the morning before the rest of the house wakes up, so you don't have to listen to all those disapproving voices telling you how much they can't stand chicken giblets.


Joanna said...

I think that most of the world feels as you do, which is why it gets harder and harder to find a chicken which comes with its little bag of giblets, unless you're buying from a box scheme.

But one lot of giblets is enough to make fabulous stock for the gravy. Just tip them straight into a little pan, rather than a bowl. Add your usual flavourings (just in smaller quantities), or nothing at all, and cover with water. Bring to the boil, simmer for the time your chicken takes to cook. Drain and you've got wonderful liquid for your gravy. Really worth doing, no trouble. 2 things: you can, if you like, fish out the liver, fry it gently and mash it onto a couple of crostini. AND, when you've drained your stock off, you can give the leavings to a passing dog or cat. Heaven all round.


Janet said...

And here I thought those parts (save the neck) were for the dog. ;-)

Magic Cochin said...

Joanna has written exactly what I was going to!!!!! What more can I add?

oh yes ... I sometimes roast the giblets on a baking tray until they start to brown before I add them to the stock pot to make a darker richer stock

and ... if you add a little cream and brandy to the mashed liver it makes a high status canapé! (That's how I do the turkey liver for a Christmas pre-dinner nibble with ice cold sherry or champagne)


lesle said...

Here in north Florida a local fast food chain uses cooking oil to pressure steam gizzards. You can cut them with a fork, and they're delicious!

Ed Bruske said...

Joanna, what you are describing is exactly the way I make the stock for our Thanksgiving gravy. The giblets (without liver) simmer in a pot of water with onion, parsley, celery for a couple of hours, or until the meat is falling off the neck. Then we set the neck out with a salt cellar for people to nibble on prior to serving dinner.

Celia, chicken liver is one thing you can always find at the grocery and you're right, it makes an excellent spread, or in my aunt's case, the famous chopped liver.

Lesle, I love the picture I am getting of the oil-steamed gizzards. A genius idea. I've never seen gizzards served in a restaurant, let alone a fast-food joint. I'd love to visit.

lesle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lesle said...

Ed, that small six-store chain is Lindy's, Tallahassee, Florida.

If you google:
Lindy's Tallahassee
one of the hits will be
Lindy's Chicken, Tallahassee
a review which talks about the gizzards.

Happy Eating!

Ed Bruske said...

Lesle, thanks for that info. I will definitely look up Lindy's next time I'm in Tallahassee.

lesle said...

Ed, judging from your site's links you've looked at a lot of other sites. But!, please allow me to steer you to two others:

Slow Food in Wales
The Old Foodie
Companion to TOF