Do not fear the gizzard. It is, like the heart, a working muscle, but one that grinds grain rather than pumping blood. In this respect its flavor and texture are not so far removed from the average palate than ‘true’ offal from organs like kidney, liver or sweetbreads. Gizzards are cheap and flavorful; you need only remember that, as Jennifer McLagan warns in Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal (Berkeley CA 2011), the “gizzard, like the heart, must be cooked fast or slow: in between it is just tough.” Anybody can sear some protein, so this recipe adds to the pantheon of traditional potted meats.
- about ¾ lb gizzards, trimmed of gristle, grit and fat
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt (like Maldon)
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- scant ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- scant ¼ teaspoon mace
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard (like Colman’s)
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- melted butter, or duck or goose fat
- Toss the gizzards with everything but the fat and let them settle in the refrigerator overnight.
- Simmer the gizzards in enough water just to cover on the lowest heat until tender; it may take an hour or so.
- Throw away the bay leaves, drain the gizzards and then destroy them in a food processor; tradition would pound them to a paste but if you prefer a coarser texture nobody will betray you.
- Check the seasoning of your gizzard paste; add a little more salt, pepper, cayenne or mustard, in any combination you choose.
- Spoon the mixture into appropriate pots or ramekins and give each container a generous seal of butter or fat; it is, in its way, the best part.
- Let the pots settle overnight again. They will keep for a long time.
-Now that all of us know that the gizzard is cousin to the heart, we can pot a like amount of heart--whether chicken, duck, goose, lamb or calf’s--the same way.
-Seasonings here are not set in stone. You will want the salt, and either some pepper or cayenne, but need not choose the dried herb, the mustard or the mace. Some people find mace irksome; nutmeg is fine instead and the Editor considers allspice universally beguiling.