Key Ingredient: Duck Gizzards
Category: Eat + Drink Articles
Local gourmet Lorna Yee puts an overlooked protein to good use
What it is: With a rich flavor similar to duck meat (though slightly gamier), gizzard is the secondary stomach in birds used to grind food before digestion. The texture is pleasantly springy when fried or roasted, and when braised or prepared confit (cooked at a low temperature in duck fat), gizzards take on a much silkier, yielding texture. You may have seen duck gizzard sold in bulk packages at ethnic grocery stores—it appears as two circular pieces of bright red meat covered by a silvery blue membrane.
How I discovered it: Duck gizzards are a staple in many Chinese households, and mine was no different. My parents often prepared salted duck gizzard and watercress soup as a prelude to the evening meal. An afternoon snack was often a platter of Taiwanese-style tea-cooked eggs with braised gizzards. They’re also a popular Asian street food, and can be found on menus around town; Kushibar in Belltown serves them skewered and roasted over Japanese coals.
How to use it in the kitchen: Duck gizzard is a versatile protein that can be prepared a number of different ways: sliced and sautéed; dredged in flour and fried; or slow-cooked in liquid, such as broth or duck fat. In Asia, sliced gizzards are often stir-fried with common pantry items such as bamboo shoots and chiles, or braised in aromatic curries. In southwest France, gizzards are typically submerged in duck fat and cooked for hours alongside meaty duck legs with garlic and herbs. This slow process renders the meat especially tender and petal pink in the middle. It is delicious sliced over lentils and moistened with a bit of walnut oil. (Gizzards are superlative plucked warm and glistening from their rich duck fat bath and consumed whilst leaning over the kitchen sink!) In the Deep South (or closer yet, at Ezell’s Chicken), you can order a pile of crispy fried gizzards as a tasty accoutrement to your fried chicken. Though I find duck gizzards absolutely scrumptious however they’re prepared, my home-style Shanghainese recipe of red-cooked pork belly with braised duck gizzards is certainly special. I love spooning the heady sauce spiked with Chinese five-spice powder and star anise over steamed rice and vegetables—to me, this is the ultimate winter food.
Where to find it: You can find duck gizzards at Asian grocery stores such as Uwajimaya (multiple locations, including International District, 600 Fifth Ave. S; 206.624.6248)