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What are Giblets?

By Kathy Hawkins
Updated May 16, 2024
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"Giblets" is a culinary term used to refer to the internal organs of poultry carcasses — namely, the heart, liver, and gizzard. The origin of the word comes from gibier, which is the Old French word for "game." When a shopper purchases a whole turkey, chicken, or other type of poultry, the organs will often be sealed in a plastic bag that is placed inside the bird's cavity. The chef who is preparing to cook the bird should always make sure that he removes the bag first. The giblets can be prepared separately, and may be frozen and reheated at a later time.

Like the animals that they come from, in the US, giblets are always inspected by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for any sign of disease, and will be discarded if they do not meet the USDA's food safety standards. By law, they must be chilled at 40°F (4.4°C) within 2 hours of the animal's slaughter.

The animals' organs are edible, and they can be prepared in several different ways. Some people fry them, while others use them to make stock or gravy. They can also be used to make stuffing, soups, and other dishes, like Cajun jambalaya.

To make stock, a chef should saute the giblets in a pan with a tablespoon of vegetable oil until they are browned. He should next add a chopped, medium-sized onion to the pan, and saute until the onions are soft. The pan should then be covered, the heat reduced to low, and the ingredients allowed to cook for about 20 minutes. The chef then adds 6 cups (1.4 l) of water and a few stems of parsley and thyme, allowing the mix to simmering for half an hour, until it has reduced. This stock can be used as a base for soups.

Cooks who want to turn the stock into gravy can mix together 3 tablespoons (42.6 g) of butter and 1/4 cup (31.25 g) of flour to create a roux. This can be poured into the stock and mixed well until the gravy thickens. When serving, the cook may want to strain out the giblet pieces.

Giblets are also frequently used in dog food. Raw ones can be fed directly to dogs; raw diets are often said to be the most nutritious for dogs. People who have concerns should always check with a veterinarian first.

Offal, the entrails and internal organs of a butchered carcass, was more commonly consumed in the Middle Ages, when people had to take advantage of every part of an animal. Today, it is rarely used in American dishes, although there are some regional exceptions. It is still common in many other countries, however, including China and Italy.

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Discussion Comments
By summing — On Dec 18, 2012

Does anyone have any creative uses for duck giblets?

I was recently given three fresh ducks. Two of them I froze and one I am going to cook tomorrow. I have a recipe picked out, but it occurred to me that I was going to throw out all these giblets that could be used for something delicious. Any suggestions?

By jonrss — On Dec 18, 2012

My mom used to make the best giblet gravy you have ever had. I grew up on a farm and we raised a lot of chickens so we were constantly eating fresh chicken with real giblet gravy. It is so rich and savory, so much better than the gravy that just comes from the fat. I make it myself now but it doesn't compare to the stuff that mom used to make.

By backdraft — On Dec 17, 2012
@anon302519 - Yes, I would get rid of the chicken. If the giblets were wrapped up in a plastic bag that means you have melted plastic filling the inside of your bird. In addition to being toxic, it probably wouldn't taste very good.
By anon301519 — On Nov 04, 2012

My husband cooked a roster without removing the bag of giblets. Is the roaster still edible? I have been told that when a roaster is prepared in this manner that the roaster becomes toxic.

By anon49589 — On Oct 21, 2009

it would be common sense to take everything out of the turkey. Why would you leave anything in it?

By anon23038 — On Dec 15, 2008

if the giblets are not in plastic, how do i know what exactly to take out? or should i just take out everything that's inside the turkey?

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