Compared to chicken, turkey gizzards are gargantuan. One turkey gizzard fits snugly in the palm of my hand. Around Thanksgiving, most stray gizzards are marshaled into the gravy. Being an offal lover, I'd rather eat the components of giblet gravy than the gravy itself.
Without further ado, I present three options for the preparation of turkey gizzards.
"Some of the silkiest flesh on the planet comes from a confit preparation."
So what if I like sticking everything into a pot of fat? There's a reason why my cellar is crammed with jars of varying sizes, packed with all manner of poultry and pork parts. Some of the silkiest flesh on the planet comes from a confit preparation, in which the meat is stewed and preserved in fat. I've already written about confiting duck gizzards, and the preparation for turkey gizzards is exactly the same. If you really want to highlight the dense and tender attributes of a well-cooked gizzard, confit is the way to go.
In further defense of confit, I'll reemphasize that once you collect a critical mass of fat, you can freeze the fat in tubs that can be defrosted and used at a moment's notice. Without going through the trouble of rendering fat each time, stewing meat in lard or duck fat becomes no different than simmering it in stock and wine. If you can make soup, you can confit.
Stock, Rillettes, and Beyond
Rillettes, that classic French preparation in which long-simmered meat is shredded and pounded into a spreadable paste, takes surprisingly well to turkey gizzards. Generally, pork, rabbit, or duck is used for this type of potted meat, but turkey gizzards work just as well.
The master recipe for rillettes is always the same: stew the meat in fat or water; pound the meat with stock and fat, and transfer the mixture to a ramekin or jar, sealing with a thin layer of fat. Rillettes are ideal to serve as an appetizer; paired with a baguette and a simple green salad, these pots also make for a rich yet simple meal.
Chinese Red Braise
"I like to have a tub of them on hand for late-night snacking."
Nothing smells more like home to me than a red-braised dish. The Shanghainese will simmer just about anything in a combination of water, soy sauce, star anise, cinnamon, and rock sugar. My mother's red-braised pork is a staple around her house; in mine, it's red-braised gizzards. Sliced thinly on a bias, a platter of red braised gizzards is a wonderful cold dish to serve as a starter in a Chinese meal. In the past I've always cooked this dish with chicken gizzards, but in recent months I've transitioned to turkey. Their larger size makes cutting paper-thin slices so much easier. I like to have a tub of them on hand for late-night snacking.
- 1.5 to 2 pounds turkey gizzards
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 medium onion
- 1 carrot
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme, or herbs of your choice such as oregano, majoram, etc.
- 6 or so black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or water
- 1/4 cup fat
- Red Braised Turkey Gizzards
- 1 pound turkey gizzards
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons Shao Xing rice wine, or sake
- 3 lumps rock sugar, or 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1-inch piece of ginger, scrubbed clean
- 2 star anise
- A 2-inch piece of cinnamon
- A few chili peppers, optional
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and place the gizzards in the boiling water. Let the gizzards cook for one minute to get rid of any impurities. Drain the gizzards and rinse under cold water.
Place the gizzards in a medium-sized pot and cover with water. Add the remaining ingredients: the water or stock, the aromatics and herbs, and peppercorns.
Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 3 hours or until the gizzards are fork-tender.
Remove the gizzards from the stock and let cool to slightly above room temperature. Strain the stock and set aside. The majority of the stock can be used in a gravy; reserve some of the liquid for use in the rillettes.
Place the gizzards in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed, slowly adding enough of the reserved stock, until the meat shreds thoroughly and the mixture takes on a moist and spreadable texture, about 1 to 3 minutes. Taste and more add salt and pepper. Since the rillettes will be served at room temperature, the paste should be slightly saltier than what you would normally expect from a warm preparation.
Spoon the mixture into individual ramekins or crocks. Refrigerate until chilled, then pour about 1/8 inch of rendered fat on top to seal the ramekins. If you are running low on fat, use a bit of olive oil to bulk up the mixture. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
Remove the rillettes from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving; they are best at room temperature. Serve with bread or toast.
Red Braised Turkey Gizzards (makes enough for an appetizer that serves 6 or more)
Place the gizzards in a medium-sized pot and cover with water. Add the remaining ingredients.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a steady simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours or until the gizzards are fork-tender. Towards the end of the cooking time, the liquid will have reduced into a syrupy sauce. Take care that the sauce doesn't burn.
Let the gizzards cool to room temperature. Before serving, slice them thinly on a bias. Serve as a snack or appetizer, accompanied by noodles or rice. Leftover gizzards may be refrigerated, whole, for up to a week. Do not slice until you are ready to serve, as the flavor degrades of a thin-sliced gizzards degrades more quickly.