Timber 2 Table Wilg Game Recipes

A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning a Wild Turkey Gizzard

By author of Timber 2 Table Wild Game Recipes

Wild turkey livers, hearts and gizzards make great table fare. Here is how to clean and prep a gizzard.

While not everyone is familar with gizzards, those that know about them usually love them. Usually breaded and deep-fried, the gizzard is just as tasty as the heart and liver in a wild turkey. But unlike the heart and liver, which require only removal from the turkey and a quick rinse to be ready for the frying pan, gizzards take a bit more work.

To understand the steps involved in preparing a gizzard, you first have to understand what function the organ serves. You might have noticed that turkeys (and chickens, and other birds) don't have teeth. So how do they break down the hard seeds and mast they are fond of eating? The food enters the system through the beak. It then gets stored in the crop for several hours. From there, it moves down the system to the gizzard. 

Turkeys eat small pebbles and gravel, which also make it down to the gizzard. The heavy outer muscles that make up the organ grind the seeds and mast against these small pebbles, breaking the food down into a digestable form. 

While I'll admit that the inner portion of the gizzard is none to appetizing to look at, those outer muscles make for some really tasty meals. Here is a step-by-step photo gallery guide to cleaning your wild turkey gizzard and preparing it for a meal. 

Remove the gizzard and clean up the exterior.

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1 | Step 1: Remove the gizzard and clean up the exterior.

Remove the gizzard from the turkey. When you peel back the breast plate (after removing the breast meat) you will see the edible parts, the gizzard, the heart and the liver. The gizzard will be the largest organ, oval shaped, and will be firm to the touch. Simply cut it free from the rest of the bird.

Trim away any loose bits of fat and connective tissue from the exterior of the gizzard.

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Step 2: Locate the diagonal line across the gizzard.

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2 | Step 2: Locate the diagonal line across the gizzard.

Look for a shallow, indented line running across the surface of the gizzard.

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Step 3: Make a shallow cut over that line.

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3 | Step 3: Make a shallow cut over that line.

With a sharp knife, make a shallow slice down into the gizzard along that line. Don’t cut too deeply and into the crop (the crop is the sack at the center of the gizzard that will be full of small gravel).

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Break open the gizzard.

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4 | Step 4: Break open the gizzard.

Break the gizzard open to expose the grit (gravel) and food inside. Use your finger or a spoon to knock most of the contents of the gizzard into the garbage or onto the ground outdoors. Don't drop it into your sink, the gravel packed inside won't be good for the pipes or your garbage disposal. 

 

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 Rinse the gizzard in a large bowl of water.

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5 | Rinse the gizzard in a large bowl of water.

 Rinse the gizzard in a large bowl of water. There will still probably be a few small pebbles attached, so again, avoid the sink.

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Peel away the layer of dark heavy liner from the inner gizzard.

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6 | Peel away the layer of dark heavy liner from the inner gizzard.

Use your fingers to peel away the dark, heavy liner from the interior of the gizzard.

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Using a sharp knife, slice away the grinding plates and the heavy gray muscle from the center of the gizzard.

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7 | Using a sharp knife, slice away the grinding plates and the heavy gray muscle from the center of the gizzard.

Using a sharp knife, slice away the grinding plates and the heavy gray muscle from the center of the gizzard. All you should be left with on the interior is dark red meat. 

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Trim away the silver skin.

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8 | Trim away the silver skin.

Use a sharp knife to trim away any remaining silver skin on the outer surface of the gizzard. This should leave two equal portions of trimmed, red meat ready for the kitchen.

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Cook the gizzard along with the heart and liver.

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9 | Cook the gizzard along with the heart and liver.

Here is a cleaned and prepped gizzard alongside a heart and liver from the wild turkey. These can be baked, broiled, sauteed, grilled or fried. 

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