Salade de Gesiérs
Salade de Gesiérs is so widespread in eateries in the Occitanie, between the Pyrenees and the Massif Central, it is hard not to eat it at some point in your travels in this southern region of France. I use the French, Salade de Gesiérs, since the English equivalent, gizzard salad, does not quite have the same je ne sais quoi. The gizzard from poultry is the muscular, thick-walled part of a bird’s stomach which helps grind up seeds and other hard food. Duck gizzard is a very meaty, roughly circular lobe which after long slow cooking in duck fat is beautifully tender and makes for delicious morsels in leafy salads, studded with fried croutons and accompanied by a glass of rose or other light-bodied, fruity wine. Stopping for lunch is all but mandatory in France. Even if you have no intention of doing so, the French more or less force you into a regime of stopping work, sightseeing or errands to sit down to a relaxed midday meal. So it was that the first time I ate salade de gesiérs was at one of these compulsory lunchtime stops while sightseeing in Le Lot . It was a perfect light meal and left room for a little sampling from the cheese trolley (when in Rome …). After that experience I did not hesitate to order it again at other lunch stops for the rest of the holiday. I find it a shame that in Australia we prefer to eat a Caesar salad with a large piece of bland chicken breast deposited on top while the gizzards are generally a discarded item. Preparing the confit of gizzard will give the chef a bit more work but I think the idea of using all the bits of a bird and to better effect has merit. Happily, supermarkets in Melbourne increasingly sell chicken gizzards, so I decided to give them the confit treatment and make my own version of this classic salad. Married with some quartered white peaches, mixed salad leaves including witlof, and crunchy, fried sourdough bread cubes, it was a wonderful culinary journey back to The Lot but sadly, without the cheese trolley. Next time ask your butcher for some gizzards or look in the poultry section of the supermarket, and put that jar of duck fat languishing in your pantry to good use. Vive la France! Vive les gesiérs!
Confit Gizzards of Chicken or Duck
Clean the gizzards of any membranous tissue or fat. Sprinkle with salt and refrigerate overnight. Rinse off the salt and place in a enameled dish with a couple of cloves of garlic and cover with melted duck fat. Heat at barely a simmer for 2-3 hours. You do not want the gizzards to boil or they will become tough. Remove from the fat once cooked and use in your salad or store the confit gizzards under fat in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze them if you decide to make a big batch.