Tuesday, February 26, 2008

CSA week 13 - Gizzards and turnips (with tops) in red wine sauce

I was a bit disappointed in this dish, but I don't think the preparation or the turnips were to blame. The fault lies squarely with the bland and dull chicken gizzards. I shouldn't really be surprised; they came from the bland and dull battery chickens they sell at Publix. It's a shame I couldn't get better. I need to find a real butcher around here.

As I mentioned back on Saturday, I wanted to pair the turnips with sweetbreads. I thought I had seen them around but I couldn't find them at my usual groceries. The lady behind the meat counter at Green Market had never even heard of sweetbreads. (I wonder if she was more confused by someone apparently asking for pastries at the meat counter or by my explanation that I actually wanted thymus glands.) I'll have to keep looking. Green Market had no organ meats at all, but Publix did have beef tripe and liver and chicken gizzards, livers and hearts. I figured chicken gizzards would work too.

The preparation itself was quite simple. I started by cutting up the gizzards and turnips into similar-sized pieces, patting the gizzards dry, seasoning them with salt and pepper and dredging them in flour. I probably should have shaken off a bit more of the flour as I had some trouble with the sauce over-thickening, but otherwise so far so good.

I heated olive oil over high heat and added the turnips and gizzards all at once. Three minutes without stirring started some nice browning despite a slightly over-crowed pan. The pieces were too small to turn individually to get the other side so I had to stir, cook for two minutes, stir again and give it two minutes more.

Then I turned down the heat to a high simmer, added a half cup of red wine (For the wine, I wanted something that could stand up to the gamey flavors I expected from organ meat but not just be a rough table wine. I took a chance on a Spanish 2001 Marques del Puerto Rioja. It was fine enough in the glass with light balsamic and vanilla flavors which contrasted nicely with the dish, but it didn't work so well as an ingredient.), a couple teaspoons of thyme and a bit more salt and pepper, covered and simmered for a couple minutes. I noticed the sauce was getting too thick so I stirred in a couple splashes more wine before adding the turnip leaves and returning the lid for another minute, gave it a stir and cooked uncovered for one minute more. And that was it.

The turnips were tender and tasty, the sauce (after I thinned it out with a bit of water) aromatic but the gizzards, while about as tender as they were likely to get, were dull dull dull. A real disappointment.

Well, tomorrow I'm going to make the caesar salad soup and I have high expectations for some pizazz out of that. Stay tuned.

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