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How to Cook Chicken Livers & Gizzards

by Tremaine Jackson

Chicken livers and gizzards have long been a staple of Southern and world cuisine. In the South, they are typically fried. In India, they are simmered slowly in a curry sauce and served over rice. Because livers and gizzards are offal -- poultry entrails -- they've developed a bad reputation and aren't typically found on weeknight family menus. But if they're cooked low and slow, they turn velvety and succulent, and you can serve them as an appetizer, mixed with stir-fried vegetables or spooned over a bed of wild rice.

There are a variety of ways to cook chicken livers and gizzards. You can stir-fry them, deep-fry them, stew them, steam them or bake them. Braising is perhaps the most accessible technique, and it's a precursor to other ways of using livers and gizzards. Braising entails searing and then simmering meat in a covered pot with a liquid of some kind. It imparts flavor and tenderizes any tough fibrous protein. If you've ever had osso buco, then you've already tasted braised meat. Prep for braising by washing the livers and gizzards with cold water. Trim any veins and membranes from the livers and wash again.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Pat the livers and gizzards dry with paper towels. You might want to chop the gizzards into smaller pieces to help them cook more quickly and evenly. Lightly salt and pepper the livers and gizzards.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in the heavy-bottomed pot. Fry the livers and gizzards over medium high heat until they are golden or dark brown on nearly all their sides. To deglaze your pan, pour a little stock into the pot and scrape up all the browned bits clinging to the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.

Add stock, wine, onions, carrots, citrus zest, herbs and spices to the fried livers and gizzards. Pour in only enough liquid to barely cover the ingredients, and bring the liquid up to a gentle simmer. Return the lid to the pot.

Transfer the pot to the oven, and allow the livers and gizzards to simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours. You can also simmer them atop the stove, but if your other burners are occupied, oven simmering is an effective (and traditional) alternative. Ninety minutes in the oven should be sufficient to cook the livers and gizzards thoroughly and bring their internal temperatures to well beyond 160 F. To be safe, check several of the livers and gizzards with a food thermometer.

Drain the livers and gizzards in a colander over a bowl, making sure to collect the braising liquid. Now you can chop the livers and gizzards and mix them into anything, including jambalaya, salads, omelets and stuffing.

Items you will need
  • Heavy-bottomed pot
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour (optional)
  • Stock
  • Wine
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Citrus zest
  • Herbs and spices

Tips

  • Use any acid, such as vermouth, vodka, Cognac, bourbon or cider, in your braising liquid.
  • To intensify the caramelized crust during searing, lightly dredge livers and gizzards in flour beforehand.
  • Opt for a small heavy-bottomed pot to concentrate your braising liquid and flavor.
  • Save the braising liquid for soups and casseroles.

Warnings

  • Stay at the stove when you sear the livers and gizzards. You want them to take on a sweet-smelling aroma and nutty color, but nothing more intense.
  • Don't drown your items in braising liquid. The idea is to create something akin to a steam bath whose steady evaporation will cook the meat and condense flavor.

About the Author

Born in New York City, Tremaine Jackson has been in theater, dance and music since age 12, when he appeared in Liz Swados' "Swing" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He is also an award winning children's recording artist. He writes fiction and poetry in his spare time.

Photo Credits

  • Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images