Last Saturday, I stood, facing the chicken cooler in the grocery store, and watched three wing-hungry home cooks clamor, Black Friday-style, for the last two packages. I worried that the elderly Betty White look-alike would be trampled when the red-eyed frat boy carrying a bottle of Frank’s hot sauce atop a six pack atop a pound of butter reached past me for the chicken. It was a sad sight, really. Food fights and feeding frenzies always are.
I love wings as much as the next guy (what, with their high proportion of skin to meat), but I am always shocked at how much they cost. Pound for pound, they are the most expensive part of the chicken. But there is an overlooked and underappreciated (and underpriced, if you ask me) chicken part just a few feet away—one they always curiously forget to include in the Chicken Parts 101 syllabus: The Gizzard.
Chicken don’t have teeth. Instead, they use their gizzard to chew up the food they eat. The gizzard itself is an extremely toned muscle in the shape of a small stomach. The birds swallow stones that sit in the gizzard that stand in for teeth, grinding up the food that passes through. Because gizzards are such well used muscles, they are very tough—that’s why they’re cheap. But with a little knowhow in the kitchen, they become tender and delicious. The good news is, it’s easy work. All you have to do is boil water. Once simmered in salted water for about 1 1/2 hours, the gizzards just give up the fight and become succulent and tender. At that point they’re good to go, but just to rub it in the face of all grandma-crushing frat boys, I like to toss them in a beer batter and fry them to order with a side of Buffalo-style sauce. For my money, they are far superior pub grub to the humble wing.
Buffalo Chicken Gizzards
Serves 4 to 6
For the gizzards:
1 1/2 pounds chicken gizzards
4 cups water
about 3 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 cup beer
For the sauce:
1/2 cup Frank’s hot sauce
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
Accompaniment: blue cheese sauce
Place the gizzards in a medium sauce pan with water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer partially covered. Simmer gizzards until tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Drain gizzards and pat dry.
Bring oil to 400°F in a medium saucepan.
Stir together flours with 1/4 teaspoon salt and beer in a bowl. Working in batches, dip gizzards in batter, letting excess drip off, then fry until golden, 3 to 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to a paper towel-lined serving platter. Return oil to 400°F between batches.
Whisk butter into hot sauce. Serve gizzards with Buffalo sauce and blue cheese sauce.