Chicken Gizzard, Heart, and Liver with Mixed Greens and Dried Cranberries

Chicken Gizzard, Heart, and Liver with Mixed Greens and Dried Cranberries (Serves 1)

I brought fresh chicken home from Cherith Farms in Alpharetta on Saturday. Really fresh. I stood with my friend Phil Busman while he caught two chickens and started them on their journey to fulfilling their chicken destiny. Death is quick on the farm. Efficient. Productive. And interesting. Phil pulled the gizzard out of each chicken and showed me with pride what his chickens had been eating.  The gizzard is a secondary stomach that birds use to grind their food before digestion. Phil’s chickens lived in the pasture, eating from nature’s buffet with chicken feed to supplement. Their insides were a beautiful golden color. I’ve eaten a few chicken livers and hearts in the past, but never gizzards. After watching the chickens die for my supper, I decided to honor them by eating more of what they produced. I prepared Chicken Gizzard, Heart, and Liver with Mixed Greens and Dried Cranberries for my lunch.

The gizzard is a tough muscle, so many cooks tenderize gizzards by simmering them in water for an hour or two or soaking them in buttermilk before sauteing, broiling, or frying them. I didn’t. I pan fried my gizzards in clarified butter with a splash of apple cider vinegar after cutting them into small pieces. They were a little chewy, but I enjoyed their meaty goodness and might not bother to prepare them any differently the next time I bring gizzards home from the farm.

Prep and cook time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

2 chicken gizzards
2 chicken hearts
2 chicken livers
1 big bunch of greens
Dried cranberries (infused with apple juice for sweetness)
Apple cider vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Clarified butter
Garlic powder
Black pepper
Salt

Directions: Wash the greens and shake out excess water as best you can. Strip the leaves from the stems and tear everything into bite-size pieces. Rinse chicken parts. Slice parts into bite-size pieces, keeping the gizzard pieces separate from the others. Melt 1 or 2 tablespoons of clarified butter in a skillet over medium heat. Spread gizzard pieces in the hot butter and dust lightly with salt and garlic powder. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar. Let the gizzard pieces cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heart and liver pieces to the skillet and dust with a little more salt and garlic powder. Let the meat cook for 3 or 4 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the meat to a bowl, saving the liquid in the skillet as best you can. Pour a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the bottom of the skillet over medium heat. Wait for oil to get hot and then add greens. Use a wooden spatula to turn the greens to speed the wilting process. Season with a dusting of salt and garlic powder. Splash greens with apple cider vinegar. Greens wilt to no more than 10 percent of their fresh volume, so it takes a big mixing bowl of fresh greens to create enough to fill a plate with wilted greens. When the greens are wilted, return the cooked meat to the skillet, scattering it across the top of the greens. Add a handful of dried cranberries, scattering them across the top too. The cranberries add a nice hint of tartness. Let everything cook together for about a minute to let the flavors mix and to let the dried cranberries soften by soaking up some of the juices. When done, slide the contents of the skillet onto a plate. Enjoy!

Notes: I cook the gizzards a little longer than the heart and liver because gizzard is tougher. The result was good, so I figure I am on the right track.

Eating two gizzards, two hearts, and two livers in one meal suited me, but I am a big eater. Two people with modest appetites might be satisfied with what I am calling a meal for one.

Dropping wet greens in a hot skillet makes hot oil jump and spit, so be careful. I found dropping enough to fill the skillet all at once helped because the greens themselves then functioned as a splatter screen.

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3 Responses to “Chicken Gizzard, Heart, and Liver with Mixed Greens and Dried Cranberries”

  1. I buy 1 lb. bags of hearts and livers (separate, not mixed) from a local farm when they do a big butchering of their free-range chickens. They said they could save gizzards for me but that I would have to clean them myself. How much work and/or mess do you think that would be?

    • Tom Denham says:

      Hi Sarah, I’ll ask my friend Phil for detailed instructions, but it looked pretty simple to me. Phil pulled the gizzard open by hand (I think) to show me what the chicken had been eating. Grass was dominant in one chicken and feed in another. It wasn’t icky or slimy or disgusting. He dunked the gizzard in a bucket of water to wash it and pulled a thin layer of tissue off one side and threw that piece into the chicken yard as chicken food. That was about it.

      PS – Phil said, “The thin membrane comes off quite easily when chilled. So remember that trick if it is problematic.

      I noticed when cleaning gizzards Monday after butchering six of them that I need to find a better way to cut them to open up that cavity. I am sure there is an optimum spot. The old adage “practice makes perfect” will certainly come into play.”

      • Sarah Bea says:

        Thanks for the information! I think I’ll try some gizzards the next time my farmer butchers chickens, in addition to the hearts and livers I normally get. I’d have to clean the gizzards myself, but it sounds doable.

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