Admittedly, dishes featuring chicken gizzards are a hard sell and some of you will go no further than the picture above (Just click HERE, Cynthia.) and that’s fine. Believe me, the majority of my family will be going with you. Since this blog was conceived as a means of recording and sharing my family’s recipes, however, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention these two. Who knows? Some future Bartolini Clan member may wish to know how to cook chicken gizzards and they won’t need to look any further than right here.
Mom and Zia were little girls when the Great Depression struck and our family, like so many others, was hit hard. By all accounts, these were lean times and our Grandparents struggled to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Both Bartolini Girls marvel(ed) at how Grandma could make a single chicken last a full week, feeding a family of four in the process. Well, that’s when she could get a chicken. Both of today’s recipes come from that time. Mom often served us the first, a side dish of peas with gizzards, when I was growing up. No need to explain why it wasn’t an especially popular dish with my siblings. The second is a pasta dish that I “created” on my own. I remember telling Mom about it and, somewhat surprised, she recalled that Grandma used to make the same dish. Zia has mentioned that, as well. Since neither had ever mentioned or served me this pasta, I think it’s a sign that Grandma wants this dish prepared and, by sharing it here, I’m just doing my part to see that her wish is carried out.
I can’t speak of packaging during the Depression but, in today’s markets, one can usually find chicken gizzards and hearts sold together in 1 pound containers. Once cleaned and trimmed, I’ll divide them, with a quarter being reserved for the peas dish and the rest for pasta. One of the 2 portions will be set aside, even frozen, for later use. Cooking these meats can be a little tricky. To brown them like one would, say, beef chunks for stew, will render them nearly inedible. That shouldn’t be a problem if you follow the steps outlined in the recipes that follow.
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Peas alla Nonna Recipe (aka Chicken Gizzards with Peas)
- 5 or 6 oz chicken gizzards & hearts, cleaned and trimmed
- 1/2 small onion, divided in halves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 plum tomato, chopped
- 2 cups frozen or fresh peas
- pinch of cloves
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Place gizzards, half of the onion, and enough lightly salted water to cover into a medium saucepan, Cover, bring to a boil over med-high heat, and reduce to a soft simmer. Cook for 1 hour, checking periodically to ensure enough water remains. At the end of an hour, pour the pan’s contents through a strainer, discarding the onion and stewing liquid.
- Slice the remaining onion portion and roughly chop the stewed meat.
- In the same pan, heat oil and butter over medium high heat. Return gizzards to the pan, along with the sliced onion, and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add tomato and sauté for a minute before adding peas, cloves, and a few tbsp of water to the pan. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook about 5 minutes or until peas are done to you liking.
- Serve immediately.
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Pasta with Chicken Gizzards Recipe
- 12 – 16 oz chicken gizzards & hearts, cleaned & trimmed
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 large (28 oz) can tomatoes, whole or diced
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 lb pasta, cooked to not quite al dente
- grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add gizzards and cook for 5 minutes. Do not allow to burn.
- Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until translucent.
- Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute before adding the wine. Cook until almost all the wine has evaporated.
- Add the tomato paste and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add parsley and tomatoes. If using whole tomatoes, tear them apart before adding to the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil, cover partially, and reduce to a soft simmer.
- The sauce should cook for 45 minutes. Check the pasta’s package directions and time its cooking so that the pasta is about 2 minutes shy of being al dente when the sauce is ready.
- Reserve some of the pasta water before adding the pasta to the frying pan. Mix well and continue cooking until the pasta is done to your liking. Add some of the reserved pasta water to the pan if the pasta becomes dry during this last step of the cooking process.
- Serve immediately, garnished with the grated parmesan cheese.
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And so ends our treatment of chicken gizzards and hearts. Oh, don’t you worry. We’ll be coming back to these ingredients when the Bartolini Family Risotto recipe is shared. That won’t be for a while, however, so, all you chickens out there can rest easy. Your giblets are safe — for now.
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