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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Offally Good: Braised and Fried Chicken Gizzards

by Panda

Like really, really good chicken nuggets.

I remember first trying chicken gizzards when I was a kid.  My first thought was that I was eating a ball of rubber bands - tasty rubber bands, mind you.  It felt like I had to chew forever to get these things down.  A chicken gizzard can be one of the chewiest things on Earth; after all, chickens use these things to pulverize their food with, so you can imagine how tough they probably are.  I had tried them several times after that, but I always had the same experience.  Tasty, but chewy.

I picked up some chicken gizzards on a whim from DeKalb Farmer's Market (our favorite place to shop for groceries).  How do you make these things chewable, I thought?  A light bulb went off in my head: braise them.  Braising will break down and tenderize the toughest meats.  Then another light bulb went off: I had wanted to make some fried chicken for a while, so why not braise them, then fry them?  Then a third light bulb went off, and I became a chandelier.

Brown = flavor.
I got my pot hot, then added some bacon fat (you do have a jar of bacon fat to cook with, don't you?)  I added the gizzards to the pot, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I let them cook until nicely browned, then added some chopped onions and allowed them to sweat.  Some garlic cloves went in, and then I had to deglaze the pan with something.  My favorite formula for a braise is browned meat, a flavorful liquid, something with a bit of tang to it, and aromatics.  I once again turned to beer to serve as my flavorful liquid.

This is some delicious stuff.  Highly recommended.
Beer went into the pot to deglaze.  I scraped up the bottom with a wooden spoon, then added chicken stock and a bundle of thyme and a quarter of a lemon.

Those chunks you see are cubes of frozen chicken stock melting into the braise. 
I brought this to a boil, then reduced it to a low simmer, covered it, and retired to the living room to enjoy the rest of my beer.  I checked on it every 20 minutes or so.  An hour and a half later the gizzards were ready.  Normally when I braise things, I like to leave them in the braise in the fridge overnight so that the flavors can marry and penetrate even more, but Mango and I were hungry; do this if you get a chance.

I removed the gizzards and put them in the fridge to cool.  So I was left with this really tasty braising liquid, and I was trying to figure out what to do with it.  One of my favorite things to do is to remove the inedible parts, then blend it to make it into a gravy, cooking it over heat again to thicken it up if need be.  I wasn't planning on having gravy with this meal, so what to do?   I knew that I was going to chicken fry these gizzards later... why not thicken the braising liquid and use it as the liquid component for the fried chicken coating?  I cooked it down until it was a glaze, then scooped it into a bowl, and it joined the gizzards in the fridge.

If you can run a wooded spoon through it, and it leaves a trail before coming back together, it's thick enough.

After everything had cooled down, I heated up some peanut oil in my cast iron pan (you do have a cast iron pan, don't you?)  Meanwhile, I got my other ingredients ready.  I mixed together some all-purpose flour and some corn starch, and added in some of my Panda's Standard Chicken Seasoning (just salt and pepper would be fine too, or whatever other spices you enjoy with chicken).  In another bowl I mixed together the braise reduction, buttermilk, and sriracha (you do have a bottle of -

Mango: *slap* Stop it.
Panda: OW!  OK.  Geeze.

I dropped the gizzards into the seasoned flour, then the liquid mixture, then back into the seasoned flour.

Be sure to shake off your excess flour.  A mesh strainer works great for this.
Buttermilk and sriracha with the braise reduction.  Any hot sauce will do, but sriracha is one of our favorites.  
Be sure to coat them well.  If you have some time, let them hang out in this mixture in the fridge for a while -  it'll make it taste even better.  The hot sauce doesn't add much heat, but it adds a ton of flavor.
All that was left to do was to fry them.  Remember, these were already cooked when I braised them!  So frying them only served to add a crunchy coating and to warm them back up.  I let them drain a bit on a paper towel set on a wire rack.  Meanwhile, Mango threw together a salad with some stuff we had on hand.

You do have a salad making Mango, don't you?
And there you go.  Dinner was served.

I was really happy with how these turned out.  The meat was nice and tender, and the coating was crunchy.  The braising reduction added a really nice flavor to the coating.  Mango's salad was a perfect accompaniment, especially at this time of year. It occurred to me that this would make a killer fried chicken salad... let me know if any of you try this. 

Braised and Fried Chicken Gizzards

1lb chicken gizzards
1tbsp bacon fat (or whatever oil you prefer)
1 bottle of beer (nothing too dark or hoppy)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled.
2c chicken stock
1/4 lemon
1 small bunch of thyme
2tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce
2tbsp buttermilk
2/3c all purpose flour
1/3c corn starch
*2 heaping tablespoons Panda Standard Chicken Seasoning (see below)
Peanut oil for frying

* or 1 heaping tbsp of salt + 1/2tbsp of pepper, or whatever seasoning you prefer

Heat a thick-bottomed pot over medium high heat.  Add bacon fat.   Season gizzards with salt and pepper, then add them to your pot.  Brown on all sides.  Reduce heat to medium and add your onions.  Cook the onions until sweated (translucent).  Add garlic and cook another minute more.  Turn the heat back on high, then add half of your beer to deglaze (save the other half for drinking).  Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of your pot with a wooden spoon.  Squeeze the lemon into the pot, then add the lemon, thyme, and chicken stock; if the gizzards are still exposed just add water until they are covered. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cover and let the gizzards braise for an hour and a half, checking every 20 minutes; if  the liquid is too low you should add more water.  When the gizzards are done, remove them from the braise and put them in the refrigerator.  Cook the braise over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reduces to a glaze - you should be able to drag your spoon through it and leave a clear trail that is apparent for about half a second.  Pour the glaze into a bowl, and put it in the refrigerator to cool.

Pour enough peanut oil into a cast iron pan (or a heavy bottomed pan or pot that can be used for frying).  Combined the flour, corn starch and seasoning in a container with a lid.  Put the lid on and shake to combine.  When the braising reduction has cooled, remove about 4tbsp of it and put it into a bowl along with the sriracha and buttermilk.  Mix to combine.  Add the cooled chicken gizzards to the flour container, lid and shake to coat evenly.  Shake off excess flour using a mesh strainer.  Add the gizzards to the bowl with the liquid mixture.  Mix and coat evenly.  Return the gizzards back to the seasoned flour - add the lid and shake again to coat evenly.  When the oil reaches 375F (use an oil thermometer) add your gizzards.  Cook until the coating is nicely browned; note that the temperature used is higher than with standard fried chicken, so the coating will cook and brown quickly - be sure to turn the gizzards over quickly to avoid burning.  When done, place the gizzards on a wire rack to cool.  Add additional salt and pepper immediately.  Serve while hot.

Panda's Standard Chicken Seasoning

1 part peppercorns
1 part coriander seed
1 part fennel seed
1 part dried herbs* (I usually use herbs de provence, but rosemary or thyme are good too)
1 part kosher salt

Combined the first 4 ingredients in a spice grinder.  Grind until course.  Pour into a container and add kosher salt.  Stir to combine.


  1. One of my favorite dishes growing up was chicken-including livers, gizzards, necks and whatnot. My mom would bread them, fry them, and then make a mushroom soup gravy and cook them for an hour or two.

    So chicken organs braised and fried sounds incredible to me!

  2. Sounds great! When researching beef heart, (which I just had for the first time and plan on cooking soon), I was checking out Michael Ruhlman's site and he recommended a new cookbook, "Odd Bits: How To Cook the Rest of the Animal" by Jennifer McLagan. I plan on checking that out too!

  3. Awesome post! Nice to know that the process I do of adding beer or wine to a pan to scrape up the dried up good bits has a technical name to it. lol. You are expanding my horizons, Panda & Mango! Thank you!

  4. Chef Cy @chefartilMay 17, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    i like the braising!!!! i usually A) add them to my chicken stock until tender or B) make a stock with them until tender.

    Pan gravy would have been nice too! Maybe I will try this in the lab soon.