I got my giblet game on last night.

Thanks to Bell & Evans, I got to play with a chicken liver, gizzard, heart and neck. And boy, did they pay off big.

Now, stay with me. Please. I know the thought of chicken innards makes you gag.

But it shouldn’t. Cooked properly and chopped into small pieces, giblets add earthiness, complexity and nutrition to a dish.

Giblets used to be de rigueur when it came to poultry. When I was growing up, every chicken had a little package of offal stuffed inside its cavity.

But tastes change, and giblets became fodder for the trash heap. Most poultry producers sell their birds giblet-less today.

Not Bell & Evans. I squeaked with joy as I pulled the little parcel of giblets out of my Sunday chicken.

But how to use them?

My mom used to chop giblets into chicken gravy. I wanted something a bit more refined.

So I steeped my offal in spices and root vegetables. Tossed it with leeks and rice. Stirred in a fistful of dried fruit. Showered everything with lemon juice and herbs.

The resulting dish was meaty, slightly sweet and layered with flavors. It was a perfect complement to our our cinnamon-, cumin- and allspice-rubbed chicken:

rice-and-giblet-dinner

I’ve dubbed this offal rice. It’s comforting and filling. Unexpected and tasty.

It’s really awfully good.

Rice With Cranberries, Currants & Giblets

rice-and-giblets-cooked

  • 1/4 of a small onion
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1 carrot, cut into large pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, unpeeled
  • 5-6 whole peppercorns
  • 1 whole clove
  • Chicken giblets (liver, heart, gizzard and chicken neck)
  • Salt
  • Water
  • 1 leek, well-rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup black rice or a brown-and-wild-rice mix
  • 1 1/2 cups liquid (use chicken stock, water or the liquid the giblets cooked in)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon currants
  • Assorted herbs

Place the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, peppercorns and clove in a saucepan.

Add the giblets and salt well. Pour in water to cover.

Partially cover the pan with a lid and place over medium heat. When the mixture begins to boil, reduce your heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the giblets are done. Remove them from the saucepan and cool.

gibletsOnce you can comfortably handle it, take the skin off the chicken neck. Pick the meat out and place it in a small bowl. Finely chop the rest of the giblets and add them to the bowl. Set aside.

Glaze a large saute pan with olive oil. Add the leeks, salt and pepper. Saute over low heat until the leeks are tender, about 8 minutes.

Add the rice. Saute for 3 minutes:

rice-and-leeks

Add the liquid to the rice and leeks, and stir well. Bring to a boil, then place a lid tightly over your pan. Reduce the heat to very low and cook until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Depending on the type of rice you choose and the brand, this will take 30 minutes to an hour.

Remove the lid of the pan. Add the giblets, the lemon juice and the dried fruit. Cover the pan and let the rice steam for 10 minutes.

Fluff the rice with a fork. Taste, adding more lemon juice or salt if necessary. Toss in your choice of fresh herbs and serve.

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