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What are giblets, anyway?

Fine Cooking Issue 29
Photo: Scott Phillips
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Don’t throw out that giblet bag! I know it’s tempting (who wants to deal with a weird hodgepodge of poultry parts?) but giblets are full of rich flavor, and it’s a shame to let them go to waste. I use them to make a quick stock or to enrich gravies and stuffings.

The giblet bag usually includes the heart, liver, gizzard (a part of the bird’s stomach), and neck, but you may find more (or less) than one of each in your bird. The heart and gizzard are sturdy enough to be braised, sautéed, simmered, or even made into confit. The more delicate liver is best quickly sautéed. If you have a surplus of chicken livers, they’ll make a fine pâté.

To make a stock, cover the neck, gizzard, and heart with cold water in a saucepan, add chopped carrot, onion, and parsley stems, and simmer for 40-to 60-minutes. Strain, reserving the giblets, and you have a flavorful stock to use as a base for pan gravy or to freeze for later. If you’re making giblet gravy, pull the meat from the simmered neck bones and dice the gizzard and heart. Add them to the gravy during the final minutes of heating.

To add the gizzard and heart to stuffing, trim any membrane, like the thick, ridged skin connecting the halves of the gizzard. Once cleaned, sauté the gizzard and heart and add them, diced, to the stuffing before baking.

The liver also lends itself to stuffings and gravies. Separate the halves, remove any membrane, and trim discolored areas. Then sauté it, chop it, and add it to the stuffing or gravy at the same time you’re adding the heart and gizzard.


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