Friday, October 23, 2009

Simmered southern-fried chicken gizzards

This is a follow up to my previous chicken gizzard post. That, somehow, has become the top result on Google for people searching for information about buttermilk and chicken gizzards. On behalf of those information seekers (and my own curiosity), I wanted to directly compare the other popular method of prepping gizzards for frying: a twenty minute simmer.

Beyond that change, I did the same egg wash and used the same spiced flour which, it seems, has been sitting in my refrigerator untouched for the last two months. That shouldn't be a problem, should it? I'll edit the post and let you know if I get sick later today.

Here's the result:

The biggest difference, obviously, is that these gizzards are already cooked before they go into the oil. The simmered gizzards are noticeably more tender, but they're also less juicy than the buttermilk-brined gizzards. That's both from the cooking and the soaking so it's a pretty significant differential. It seems to me that if you want perfectly tender chicken, you shouldn't be cooking organ meats so I'm weighing the moistness more heavily. Advantage: buttermilk.

A second difference is in the texture of the breading. Compare the two pictures (here's the other) and you can see that the buttermilk-brined gizzards are significantly more knobbly-crunchy. It's the difference between KFC regular and extra crispy so a matter of personal preference. No advantage.

A third difference is in the flavor. I'm not sure I can fairly judge here as I salted the simmering water and that combined with the heavily salted flour coating over-salted the final results. Looking past that, the simmered gizzards are missing a dimension of tanginess from the buttermilk that I enjoyed and the gaminess has been minimized. I miss the added complexity. Also, the dryness of the simmered gizzards (probably even without the extra salt, I think) compelled me to use a sauce to compensate. I prefer having the option to dip or not to dip. Advantage: buttermilk.

A fourth difference is how long the recipes took. I made these for lunch on impulse and I was eating less than 40 minutes later. The buttermilk gizzards soaked for 48 hours. Advantage: simmering.

It comes down to convenience versus depth of flavor and texture. Isn't that always the way? I did happily finish my bowlful of simmered gizzards and I can't help noticing that I'm having lunch today and not two days from now so I can't be entirely negative here. But my foodie impulses can't be denied and I have to come down on the buttermilk-brine side if you can spare the time.

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