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Chicken Hearts

Have you ever looked at the ‘Chicken Hearts” in the grocery store and wondered to yourself, “what on earth do people do with them, other than feed them to their cat”?

I am here to tell you what people do with them! We eat them. If you take the hearts and roll them in flour and fry them in butter to make them all crunchy, they are delicious. Seriously! I used to feed the chicken hearts to my children, and they loved them. My mother used to feed us chicken gizzards and hearts all the time – she called them “buttzel-books” (I think it is an old German thing).

Nowadays, I fry them and use these little morsels as treats for my dogs and I will tell you why. They are low in Sodium and a good source of Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Protein, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Iron and Zinc. AND they are cheap to buy.

Actually, gizzard and chicken heart nutrition might surprise you. As an animal protein, both the hearts and gizzards provide all the essential amino acids, making it a complete source of protein. Protein is found in every cell in your body, and the protein in your diet is used to help replace and maintain protein levels. Gizzards also contain a variety of vitamins and minerals including B12, iron, phosphorus, zinc, selenium and niacin. Vitamin B12 plays a role in the healthy function of the brain and nervous system and iron is vital in making sure that our red blood cells can transport oxygen throughout the body. Phosphorus helps remove waste from our kidneys and is involved in bone formation and zinc, mostly known for its immune-boosting benefits, also helps cell growth and wound healing. Niacin plays a part in converting macronutrients into energy utilized by the body. They contain selenium, a mineral that is typically difficult to obtain from food. Selenium plays a role in the production of thyroid hormones. Although chicken hearts and gizzards are low in calories and high in protein, they are both high in cholesterol, and the chicken hearts are high in fat. But seriously, you do not eat enough of them to worry about. It’s not something you would eat every day.

Now, when you look at chicken gizzards, you might think there is no way you are going to eat them; I get that, but seriously, once you give them a try, you may be surprized. I know they are a little tough and not very flavourful on their own. But a few simple cooking methods can help you transform them into tender and delicious edibles. Here are a few ideas if you ever decide to give them a try.

How to Fry Chicken Gizzards

Place gizzards, onion, celery and celery salt in a saucepan and add enough water to cover the gizzards by about an inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the gizzards are tender, about three hours. Remove the gizzards and discard the celery and onion. Make sure to reserve the broth.

Season the gizzards with celery salt, salt, pepper, garlic powder, hot sauce and cumin. Pour saved broth over the gizzards and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes. Stir often. Heat frying oil in a large pan until oil starts crackling. Place flour in a plastic bag and put the gizzards inside. Shake the bag to coat the gizzards with flour. Gently add about half of the gizzards to the hot pan and fry until golden brown, about five minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

How to Bake Chicken Gizzards

Cut the gizzards in half. Season lightly with salt, pepper, herbs and preferred spices. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 500 degrees for just under 30 minutes or until the gizzards are browned.

500 sounds too hot to me, is that right?

How to cook

Chicken Hearts

This chicken hearts recipe is easy, healthy and paleo. Chicken hearts are small and delicate, and they are ready fast – 5 minutes of pan frying and dinner is ready!

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Place the chicken hearts, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin in a large bowl.

Use a large spoon, or your hands, to mix everything together, coating the chicken hearts with the oil and seasonings. Heat a large, heavy frypan over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes.

Add the seasoned chicken hearts. Cook, stirring often, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Chicken Hearts with Onions and Mushrooms

1½ lbs. Chicken Hearts

½ cup vegetable oil

⅓ cup flour

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

¾ cup sliced onions

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 teaspoon garlic salt, divided

1¾ cups chicken broth

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

6 cups cooked rice

In a 6-inch skillet, over medium-high heat, add ½ cup oil. Slowly add flour to make a roux. Cook for 6 minutes or until it is light to medium brown in color. Turn heat off. Cut the tops off of the hearts. Slice the hearts in half. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and mushrooms, cook for 3 minutes. Add chicken hearts and ½ teaspoon garlic salt. Cook for 3 minutes.

Slowly stir in chicken broth, ½ teaspoon garlic salt, black pepper and oregano. Add roux and stir. Bring to a rapid simmer. Reduce heat to low simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

Serve with cooked rice.

There are a ton of recipes on the internet on how to cook Chicken Hearts and Gizzards. So next time you look at these little beauties in the grocery store, do not turn up your nose – be adventurous – live a little and give them a try, you might be surprized.

Remember how good they are for you and such an inexpensive meal!

Kathryn Hartwell


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