Chicken gizzards are mostly dark meat full of nutrients, but many people don’t know how to prepare them. They are not an uncommon part of our traditional cooking repertoire, and here I teach more about this uncommon, flavorful chicken meat and tell you how to cook it.
Why we ❤️ it
This is not the only chicken gizzard recipe in our collection. A long time ago I shared my mom's awesome Locrio de molleja de pollo. Needless to say, I am a huge fan of gizzards, and grab a pack every time I find them in the supermarket.
Chicken gizzards are a very special chicken cut, it's dark meat with a gamey taste, red meat-like texture, and enough fat to increase the flavor of whatever it's cooked with. Let me show you why you may learn to love it too.
What are gizzards?
The gizzard is a part of the chicken digestive system – a stomach of sorts – a unique organ that does not have an equivalent in mammals.
"[...] a muscular, thick-walled part of a bird's stomach for grinding food, typically with grit.OED
Gizzards, as well as giblets, hearts, and chicken livers, are some of the innards that are traditionally eaten in the Dominican Republic, where buying a whole chicken and using everything edible is a long tradition.
What does it taste like?
Gizzard has a gamey taste, it has long muscle strands similar to beef, and – once properly cooked – can be very tender.
How to cook it
Chicken gizzards cannot be cooked like the typical chicken cut. Gizzards are very tough, and we typically first boil it either in a pressure cooker, or – for a much longer time – a regular pot. We can add seasonings and spices to the water to add flavor to the gizzards while they boil.
Once boiled, they can be prepared in a variety of ways.
Chicken gizzard recipes
My favorite chicken gizzard recipe is chicken gizzards and rice (Locrio de molleja), a tasty combination of rice, vegetables, and gizzards in a one-pot dish. My second favorite is this Molleja guisada recipe.
In the Southern US, fried chicken gizzards are a part of their cooking heritage, and are popularly cooked in a deep-fryer and served with a dipping sauce as an appetizer. In Brazil, it is grilled; and made into tender chicken gizzards Adobo or in a stir fry in the Philippines.
Chicken gizzard (molleja guisada) with rice and maduros.
Mollejas guisadas (Dominican chicken gizzards) go great with some Tostones (what doesn't?!). But it can also be served in lieu of Pollo guisado in our traditional Lunch meal of rice, Dominican beans, and Dominican salads. Simplify your life by just serving these tender gizzards with a bowl of Arroz blanco and a few slices of Fritos maduros (fried ripe plantains) – just perfection!
Moro rice is also a great side dish with these stewed chicken gizzards.
I love mine a bit spicy, so serve alongside Agrio de naranja, or whatever hot sauce you have if you feel like it.
About this recipe
Chicken organs are reasonably popular in our cuisine. Other "lesser" chicken cuts like feet, and necks (pico y pala) are also popular. But they are not an everyday dish. Mollejas are a once-in-a-while treat, and there aren't that many ways to make it.
If you have another way to serve or make mollejas guisadas, I'd love to hear about it, so please share it in the comments.
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How to Cook Chicken Gizzards (Molleja de Pollo Guisada)
- 1 pound chicken gizzards, [0.9 kg]
- 1½ tablespoons salt, , or more, to taste, divided
- ½ teaspoon pepper, freshly-cracked, or ground, or more, to taste, divided
- 1 teaspoon oregano, dry, ground, plus a pinch for later
- 1 bay leaf, optional
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 bell peppers, or cubanela (cubanelle) peppers
- ½ cup chopped celery, (optional)
- 1 small red onion, stalks cut into slices
- ½ teaspoon mashed garlic
- 4 plum tomato, cut into quarters
- ¼ cup pitted green olives, (optional)
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 4 sprigs parsley, or cilantro, minced
Clean and boil the gizzards
- Clean the gizzards of excess fat if you like, and check that there is no sand left in them (there shouldn't be if you buy them from the supermarket).
- Add the gizzards to a large pot in ½ gallon [2 liters] of water with a tablespoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of oregano, and the bay leaf, Boil until the gizzards become very tender, which can be 60 90 minutes, add water if it becomes necessary to prevent it from drying out. A pressure cooker or Instant pot speeds up this step to about 20 - 30 minutes.
- Drain the water (reserve both). Place the gizzards on a paper towel to absorb excess water. Reserve the gizzards and the water in which they were boiled.
Stew the gizzards
- In a large skillet or dutch oven (caldero), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken gizzards and cook and stir until the meat is heated through.Stir in bell pepper, celery, and onions. Cook stirring until the onion become translucent. Stir in garlic, tomatoes, olives, and a pinch of oregano.
- Cover with the lid, and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through (7 - 10 minutes), adding water by the tablespoon and stirring as it becomes necessary to prevent it from scorching.Add the tomato sauce and half a cup of the liquid from boiling the gizzards, and simmer over low heat to produce a light sauce. The vegetables will be very soft, the sauce is a bit thick.
- Add fresh cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from the stove.Serve per suggestions above the recipe.
Tips and Notes
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutritional information.
In my experience, chicken gizzard bought from large supermarkets already comes clean and ready to cook. If you buy it from your local butcher or small store, you may need to peel a yellow skin stock to the inside of the gizzard and rinse it to get rid of grit.
Gizzard, or digestive mill, is part of the digestive tract of a chicken. It is used by birds (and other animals) to grind hard food. It's a very strong organ muscle that, combined with small pebbles or grit that the chicken ingests, allows it to grind hard foods like dry corn (maize).
Chicken mollejas are chicken gizzards in English, a digestive organ also called digestive mill.
How easy it will be to find gizzards will depend on how popular they are in your local cuisine. If they are part of your local cuisine, you'll be able to find them at supermarkets, otherwise, your local butcher or specialty shops are your best bet.
Published Aug 12, 2016, revised