The 1 Part of the Turkey You're Still Afraid of and Shouldn't Be
What the heck are turkey giblets? It's the term used to describe the neck, liver, heart, and gizzard (digestive organ), all of which are edible when cooked and often found in stock, gravy, or stuffing. My boyfriend calls them "the part of the turkey you get to deal with or else I'll barf," and my co-worker when referring to them says, "They make me queasy and squeamish. I don't want to touch them without gloves on." I'm not going to lie; I too feel all these feelings.
These reactions to organs we don't normally cook with are natural. I can't tell you how many Thanksgivings I've looked the other way, fished for the bag-o'-giblets inside the turkey's cavity, and screamed as I launched them into a trash bag. There's a lot of fear and uncertainty around giblets. In an effort to dispel any hesitation to cook with giblets, here's a basic rundown of what you need to know about them. And, if you're wanting to dive head first into uncomfortable cooking territory and expand your culinary palate, here's how to easily use them in Thanksgiving recipes.
When to Take Those Giblets Out
What to Do About Giblet Blood
Some giblets are packaged in a plastic bag, while others are in wax paper. If your giblets are in wax paper and they've left a pool of blood in the turkey cavity, have no fear! Remove the giblets first, then stuff the cavity with a bunch of paper towels to absorb up any blood and/or residual moisture. This won't affect the flavor of your turkey or compromise the food safety.
What Happens If You Cook the Giblets in the Turkey
It occurs to people more often than not! If the giblets are wrapped in wax paper, the turkey is safe to eat, as long as it comes to the correct temperature. However, if the giblets are wrapped in a plastic bag, the plastic may have leached into the turkey meat, and unfortunately, you may need to toss the turkey.
How to Make Giblets Tasty
All right, are you ready to cook the whole fowl? Here are some basic ways to incorporate the giblets into your Thanksgiving dishes.
- Turkey neck: Use it to make a flavorful turkey stock to be used in gravy and leftover turkey soup. The meat can be pulled off the bone too!
- Liver: Sauté it (in bacon grease or butter), chop it finely, and incorporate it into your stuffing or dressing to add an earthy flavor.
- Heart and gizzard: Martha Stewart's giblet gravy calls for boiling the heart and gizzard in water to make a stock for pan gravy. Once the gravy is fully prepared, chop the boiled giblets and stir the pieces back in.
There you have it. Giblets add earthiness and savory richness to Thanksgiving dishes. Try them out this year; you may be surprised.