Content starts here

Think Twice Before Throwing Away Turkey Giblets


It's time to kick off my annual "Save the Giblets Campaign."

You know giblets: the heart, liver, gizzard, neck and such, all stuffed inside most whole turkeys and chickens you buy, and all neatly wrapped in a little paper or plastic baggie. If you're like most people, you probably also know giblets as "that bag of stuff you throw away."

See also: Healthy Thanksgiving recipes

Awhile back I became curious about giblets and, specifically, the volume of giblets Americans are likely involuntarily buying (because they come prepackaged - and weighed in - with the bird) and summarily throwing away. I established the GRI ("Giblet Research Institute") here at the Ultimate Cheapskate World Headquarters in rural Maryland and what I found was shocking, or, perhaps more appropriately, "gut wrenching."

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and some of my own mathematical calculations here at the GRI, I have deduced that, given the 45 million turkeys Americans are expected to buy this Thanksgiving, we'll be paying for - and throwing away - about $30 million worth of giblets! In case you're wondering, in terms of wasted calories that's enough to feed 55,000 people for an entire year ... assuming, of course, that you could find 55,000 people willing to eat only giblets for an entire year.

But in all seriousness, giblets are not only perfectly edible, but really quite tasty. If nothing else, put them in a saucepan, cover them in water, and simmer them for 45 minutes or so, until the neck and everything else is fully cooked.  Once cooled, pick the meat off the neck, remove any tough parts from the other organs, and then chop it all up to add delicious flavor to your turkey stuffing or gravy.

Better yet, try this simple recipe for Sherry Giblet Pate ("Pate" is French for "good stuff you eat on a cracker or piece of bread," I think):

  • Cooked meat from one packet of turkey giblets (cooked and prepared, as above)
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons cream sherry
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) salted butter (Note: cream cheese can be substituted for butter)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Put the meat, onion, and sherry in a food processor and puree until smooth. Gradually add pieces of the butter and continue to puree until mixture holds together as a smooth paste. (Note:  It may take less or more butter than indicated, depending on the amount of meat - you know, not all giblets are created equal, at least in size!). Once the mixture is smooth and creamy, it is ready to eat; or pack it into a small bowl, cup, or mold and allow to setup in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

In the tradition of my "Eat Your Jack-o-Lantern" crusade last month, I hope this Thanksgiving you'll lock arms (or necks) with me and join my "Save the Giblet Campaign." Remember my slogan: When you save your giblets, you're saving a heart ... among other innards.

Photo credit: skooksie via Flickr.

Search AARP Blogs