The majority of people I know are turned off by liver and when you mention chicken gizzards they have this look on their face as if they think I’m joking. People actually eat gizzards? I don’t blame the average North American for disliking liver as I too was turned off the first time I had liver at a local restaurant. A coworker insisted we go out for lunch at a pub that had liver and onions on special. The texture, smell and overall taste was not appealing. It was nothing close to the liver and gizzards that my mom would make with dhal and rice for dinner.
During my childhood on the islands I remember my mom having a bag in the freezer where she would put the chicken liver and gizzard from the weekly chicken we’d buy from the chicken farm, until she had enough for a meal. My job back then was to “feather” the chicken and I can safely tell you that I don’t miss that chore. Our mom hated the automatic “plucker” that the farm had, as she thought that it bruised the meat of the chicken. So little ole me had to hand pluck the chicken every Sunday morning.
Here’s my rendition of the recipe my mom would use back then.
1lb chicken liver
1 lb chicken hearts and gizzards
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of black pepper
1 small onion sliced
1/2 medium tomato sliced
2 cloves garlic sliced or crushed
1 scallion diced (green onion)
1/2 teaspoon green seasoning mix
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce (dark)
1/4 hot pepper (habanero or scotch bonnet)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ketchup
Start off by cutting the gizzards into small pieces (about 1/2 inch), but cut the liver into bigger chunks (I’ll explain why later). Place in a bowl and squeeze in the lime or lemon juice, mix well and rinse with cool water. Drain off all the excess water and let’s season this so it can marinate. Add the following to the bowl.. salt, black pepper, green seasoning, tomato, hot pepper (optional – can use hot sauce as well), scallion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Mix well and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Heat the oil on medium/high heat in a pan, then add the seasoned gizzard and hearts ONLY! This is why I suggested above that you keep the pieces of liver a bit bigger, so you can fish them out and keep them aside. Since liver cooks very fast we won’t be adding it to the pot until much later. So go ahead and add the gizzard and heart pieces, as well as any of the marinade. Give it good stir and add the ketchup and soy sauce. This will help it achieve some colour or it will be rather pale. Add the 1/4 cup of water and ring it to a boil, then lower the heat to a very gentle simmer, cover with a lid and allow it to cook for about for 25-30 minutes. The gizzard will take a while to get tender. Stir occasionally.
After 30 minutes there should still be a bit of liquid in the pot and the gizzard should be tender. Here is when we add the seasoned liver we set aside earlier. After adding the liver, turn up the heat to medium, give it a good stir and cover the pot. Let that cook for 3 minutes. Then remove the lid and cook for another 3 minutes. My mom would turn up the heat if at this point the gravy was thin, since we enjoyed it with little or no gravy.
Check this observation I made over the years. I remember when I first moved to Canada way back when… you could get a huge pack of chicken liver and gizzards at the grocery store for under a dollar. Today, you have to be lucky to even find it in the meat section and if you do, the price is almost as high as buying chicken breast. The influx of immigrants created a huge demand for such things. And butchers are only too happy to cash in. The same can be said for pig feet, oxtail, goat, etc.
If you’re not daring enough to try the gizzards and hearts, do try the liver only. Just season as above and cook no more than 6 minutes in total on high heat, or you’ll wreck the liver. And before you go I’d like to ask you to leave me a comment below – even if it’s just to say hello. It’s appreciated. BTW, have you connected with us on facebook yet?