Gizzards are secondary stomachs used by birds to grind their food before digestion. Because birds don't have teeth, they must fill this stomach with small stones to achieve the same goal. The organ contains a very tough inner membrane, surrounded by a muscular pouch which provides the grinding action. Gizzards are part of the group of foods called offal, which also includes beef tripe, chitlins (pork intestines), and hearts.
While many people may recoil at the thought of eating bird stomachs, gizzards are actually a popular food item around the world. They may be poached, boiled, ground, or even deep fried. The turkey gizzard is also included in the collection of neckbones, heart, and liver known as giblets. These giblets are often used to make a stock or broth for dressings and soups. The gizzards alone can also be added to soup stocks for additional flavor.
Deep fried chicken gizzards are commonly served in the southeastern region of the United States. They are usually available in bulk at local grocery store meat departments, along with other organ and offal meats such as chicken livers and souse. The organs are washed to remove any impurities, then heavily dredged in seasoned flour. They are deep-fried at a very high heat for several minutes until done. Chicken gizzards are often served with a honey mustard or barbecue sauce.
The taste and texture of fried gizzards can be difficult to describe. They are definitely chewy, since they are primarily a membrane more than a muscle. The muscle tissue itself has a subtle flavor similar to chicken liver. Chicken livers and gizzards are often prepared together, but not seasoned identically. Gizzards are usually seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic salt, while livers are generously coated with Cajun spices and seasoned salt.
Gizzards are a popular food item among poorer countries because they are usually in high supply and are very affordable. Grocery stores usually pack chicken or turkey gizzards in bulk containers and offer them for sale by the pound or kilogram.