If you think about it, buying a whole chicken is such a practical thing to do. You can eat the meat and use the leftover bones to make a flavorful and nutritious stock. The only items that may not be your cup of
tea meat are the offal portions.
Those of us who are daring enough to give these offbeat chicken parts a chance, however, can vouch for the absolute delight they are when cooked properly. Offal cuts of any animal are usually scoffed upon by people because they have an inherently different flavor and texture. In other words, they require an acquired taste to be appreciated.
Getting To Know Chicken Offal
It is understandable that chicken offal bits may not be the cut above or anything even close to the primal for anyone who has not tried them. A quick description of these cuts can help you learn more about them and may even lead you to overcome whatever hesitation you have about consuming them.
- Description: Chicken liver is probably the way to begin your offal journey since it is known to have a lighter inherent taste than beef, pork and lamb livers. Although it is typically maroon in color but can have a yellowish tint if it is high in fat. Slippery in texture in its raw state, chicken liver is a convenient choice also because it takes very little time to cook.
- Nutrition: Chicken liver is a rich source of iron and protein.
- Popular dishes: Chicken liver pâté, Yakitori (Japanese), Deep fried chicken liver, Giblet gravy.
- Tip to remember: Even though it is milder in flavor than other animal livers, you may still want to lighten its natural taste if you are trying chicken liver for the first time. The best way to accomplish that is to soak the liver in buttermilk or acidified water before you cook it.
- Description: If you have already tried chicken liver and kind of liked it, you may be ready to give gizzard a try. Gizzard is a tougher organ than the liver and needs a longer cooking time than the liver.
- Nutrition: Gizzards contain iron, vitamins A & C, calcium, sodium and potassium.
- Popular Dishes: Giblet pie, Giblet gravy, Deep fried gizzard.
- Tip to remember: Since gizzard is a part of a chicken’s digestive system, it is important to clean it properly before cooking because it may still have contaminants.
- Description: Anyone who likes chicken liver would also love the taste and texture of chicken heart. Typically the size of a small strawberry, the heart has a layer of fat on the top and is a tad softer than the liver.
- Nutrition: A good source of protein, iron, B12, folate and zinc, chicken hearts are also high in cholesterol.
- Popular dishes: Alicot (French), Giblet gravy, Giblet pie, Grilled hearts.
- Tip to remember: When grilling or pan-frying chicken hearts, a two to three-minute cooking time per side is enough to yield perfectly cooked portions.
- Description: A relatively miniature offal cut in size, chicken kidney bear similarity to the liver in taste and texture. Although it is rare to find restaurants offering chicken kidney as part of their menus, it is used in some French and Chinese specialty dishes.
- Nutrition: Studies have shown that chicken kidney contains melatonin receptors, which have been known to fight aging as well as prevent cancer.
- Popular dishes: Steak and kidney pie.
- Tip to remember: Being a small organ, you will need a considerable number of chicken kidneys to make a proper meal.
- Description: In its original state, cockscomb is a red, purple or black crown-shaped part of a chicken’s body, sitting atop its head. In the culinary world, a rooster’s cockscomb is given preference over a hen’s due to its larger size. It becomes gelatinous when cooked, with its often compared to that of a gummy candy.
- Nutrition: There isn’t much information about the nutritional value of this offal cut, but since it is gelatinous, it can be assumed that it contains small amounts of proteins and amino acids.
- Popular dishes: Chinese dim sum, Cibreo (Italian).
- Tip to remember: Before they are cooked, cockscombs need to be cleaned and boiled in order to peel the skin covering them.
- Description: Although they do have the potential to gross people out by the mere mention of their name, rooster testicles are consumed as delicacies in different parts of the world.
- Nutrition: Testicles contain protein, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, phosphorus and magnesium.
- Popular dishes: Broth, Testicle tempura, Rooster testicle stew (Hungarian)
- Tip to remember: Prior to being cooked, testicles are typically scalded and skinned, after which they are drenched in cold water.