Thursday, September 27, 2007

Don't want no Captain Crunch, don't want no Raisin Bran

Once upon a time, on a sick day, I watched an entire 30 minute show of Mario Batali on the best network ever. Generally, I avoid his show, Molto Mario, because he is so aggravatingly snotty, makes things that require you to make your own specific broths with a 3 day cure and must be used within 12 hours of completion or they self destruct, etc. Don't get me started on the price of the olive oil he strongly advises to use to keep your food from tasting too common. Also, he wears bright orange crocks. Who does that, honestly. Even with all my issues of his character, taste in fashion, and general disgust for him, I found one reason that day to watch: his entire show was about cooking with the eatable innards of the chicken - namely the gizzard, heart and liver. I decided to give Mario Batali a chance to prove that he does have a place in this world and is not a total waste of space, as has been my assumption all along.

I am a huge gizzard and heart fan. Growing up, it was a fight between my dad and I who would eat them after unpacking the chicken/turkey/etc and throwing them in the frying pan. Granted, anything fried in enough grease or butter and properly seasoned is tasty, but the gizzard and heart are especially yummy. A little tough, but in a good way. Tons of flavor. Fun shape. Offers a chance to quote Magua ("When the white meat is dead, Magua will eat his heart" ). Limited competition (dad usually was distracted by the neck, giving me a chance to swoop in with my fork for the good stuff). Imagine my delight when I learned of an entire dish that could be made from chicken gizzards and hearts. A-mazing. This was months ago. I have searched Harris Teeter every time I shop for gizzards to make this dish. I asked the butcher at the most amazing grocery store ever and was shot down when I asked for a half pound of gizzards. I had all but given up hope (last resort: start buying chickens and save each and every gizzard and heart until I had collected the appropriate amount).

It was with an open heart and an empty stomach that I wandered into Giant after work on Friday to pick up some rice to attempt to redo the previous disaster (side note: the pan, after some excellent advice, has come back for more faithful service!). After watching Howie make oodles and oodles of risottos on TC this season, I also threw in the appropriate rice to attempt my own some time if the mood struck. And then there is the habitual stroll down the meat aisle, hoping fillet mignon has been marked down to $.75/pound.

And then, buried in the poultry section, were two packages of gizzard and hearts. $1.70 for the entire package.

At home, I went about the task of finding the recipe. I had printed it off at one time, but alas, it was not to be found. No problem, I thought, I'll just find it online. None of the Batali gizzard recipes were right. None sounded remotely as appetizing as the one I had burned in my memory. I was stuck in Pit of Gizzard despair.

Epicurious to the rescue! A quick search found a Gizzard Risotto recipe that not only was Kosher (how timely, considering the next day was Yom Kippur) but I also happened to have risotto rice on hand! And everything else (other than the carrots and celery, but no matter...)! I went to task (its a 2 hour recipe, but well worth the effort) and started my dinner. Well into the cooking, during a lull when the gizzards were happily simmering away in their wine and chicken broth, I started to put away my groceries from earlier. As I reached up above my fridge to collect my rice container, a piece of paper slid down, formerly stuck in just the right place so it couldn't be seen between the cookbooks and dry ingredient jars.

It was, of course, Mario's recipe.

If, by an act of God or kind butchers, I find gizzards again in the store, Mario will be challenged once again. Until then, keep your crocks outta my kitchen.

No comments: