Most people only cook gizzards on Thanksgiving but today I am going to provide an alternative: confit. This French cooking technique was developed to preserve meat in the days before refrigeration. Although it’s no longer necessary, we still confit foods because it makes them taste so good.
In this recipe, dense gizzards are slowly poached in oil until tender and then quickly browned in the flavors of Mexico’s Yucatán to make one of the best tacos you’ve ever had. You’ll think twice about discarding the gizzards after your next bird hunt.
It’s worth noting that duck fat is most commonly used for confit, but technically any fat or oil will work. You can use rendered wild game fat from goose or bear and it isn’t necessary to buy expensive duck fat for this recipe.
- 1 lb. cleaned gizzards
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. cracked pepper
- 3 – 4 cups rendered fat from wild game, olive oil or canola oil
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 dried chiles (optional)
- 1/4 red onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. ground annatto/achiote powder (sub. chili powder)
- 3/4 tsp. oregano
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- 1 tbsp. orange juice
- Tortillas, cilantro, shaved radish, jalapeño, salsa, etc. for serving
Clean the gizzards and roughly chop them into 1/2” – 1” pieces. Toss them in a bowl with salt and cracked pepper and rest overnight in the fridge to cure before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Layer the gizzards, bay leaves and dried chiles in the bottom of a casserole dish and cover with fat or oil until completely submerged. If using a saturated fat, you will need to warm to a liquid consistency first. Cover the dish and transfer the gizzards to the oven and allow them to cook for several hours. Check at 4 hours. Some birds are tougher than others. If the gizzards are not very tender, they will need to cook longer. You can also confit the gizzards overnight in a crockpot set on low.
Use a slotted spoon to scoop the gizzards from the oil. Place on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up excess oil. Strain the oil/fat and reserve in fridge for future use.
Heat a small spoonful of the confit oil in a large cast iron or sauté pan over high heat. Add the sliced red onion and sauté until translucent.
Stir in the gizzards, garlic, cumin, annatto, dried oregano and cayenne. Quickly brown the gizzards and then deglaze the pan with lime and orange juice. Remove from heat and serve in tortillas with choice of condiments.