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What do you do with the giblets and neck for Thanksgiving?

This topic has started wars in my extended family and also with friends. John's family puts some giblets in the gravy and some in the stuffing. John hates giblets and is horrified when he accidentally eats some of these little surprises. Once I spent Thanksgiving at my cousin's house and was dismayed to learn that her family tradition was to cook up the giblets and neck as a good starter for turkey soup later. I have to admit that they made a fine turkey soup but then the turkey gravy sucked. My firm belief is that giblets are to be cooked up along with the neck to make a savory broth as a base for the all important turkey gravy. This makes Thanksgiving Dinner yummier and also all those future hot turkey sandwiches. Dogs get most of the giblets and the cat gets a piece of giblet plus the neck to chew on for about ten minutes before she can eat any of the bone. Then I take it from her. I make turkey soup too to go with all those cold turkey sandwiches but I already have two frozen containers of chicken broth just waiting to enrich that hot turkey rice soup. Man, now I'm hungry.

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  1. There was recently a great topic on something very similar. I have to admit, the conversation we had will change my use of the neck.


    1. We put the liver in the stuffing and the rest gets simmered for stock to make the gravy. Thanksgiving is usually at my parents' place and the cooked neck, etc get thrown in the woods for whatever critters want to eat them. Foxes we think.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Sooeygun

        I make a giblet gravy but cooking them in a saucepan with water until done, remove from pan, cool, and chop into small pieces, add back to the broth, then thicken the gravy with cornstarch and water. Season to taste. The neck is the cook's snack! The cook is me and I've been known to buy a package of turkey necks any time of year and cook them for my lunch. I also like chicken necks.

        1. re: alliedawn_98

          Yep, I cook the neck and gizzards (while the turkey is roasting) in water with celery, onion, bay leaf and peppercorns...I scrape whatever meat I can from the cooked neck--you'd be surprised how much comes off--then I chop that up along with the giblets and add to our pan-gravy. The broth also goes into the gravy. Not everyone likes giblets in their gravy--others put the giblets in the dressing or stuffing.

          1. re: alliedawn_98

            Allie now I miss my friend Joe who was like a second father to me. My daschunds and cat would miss out when I cooked for him because he loved the necks and giblets from chickens and turkeys too.

        2. I boil all that stuff that comes in the little bag, chop, peel off meat from neck and add all of it, including the broth, to my dressing.

          Gravy is made from the juices cooked off.

          1. I roast them all with the turkey and them eat them. That's the way we did it at my grandmother's when I was a kid and we'd fight over the giblets and neck. Now I don't have to fight anyone for them as my in-laws think I'm disgusting for eating them.

            the in-laws use them as a base for the gravy, but don't chop them up so I get to eat the neck and giblets when I'm at their house as well.

            1 Reply
            1. re: roro1831

              We use them as a base for the gravy, too- don't pit them into the gravy- my mom eats them!

            2. I use the neck and wing trimmings for stock for the gravy, roast the heart and gizzard tucked under the turkey, and toss the liver. The gizzard and heart are the cook's snack. I despise little bits of giblets in gravy or stuffing.

              1. We simmer the heck out of the giblets in a saucepan at the back of stove with some poultry seasoning and use the liquid for the gravy and give Murphy dog the fleshy parts.

                The neck we roast and it is then fought over by my mother and brother.

                1. Like several others have already mentioned, I simmer everything (except the liver, which I toss) to make stock for the gravy.


                  1. Giblets and hearts and neck meat get poached with a bay leaf, perhaps aromatics, and a little dry French vermouth. The organs are then trimmed and diced, while the neck meat is shredded/minced - the meat is used in both the gravy and dressing along with some sausage. the poaching liquid is then reduced and added to the stock/broth.

                    The liver is reserved for other uses.

                    But I would not dream of wasting them - they are the best part (along with the tail of the roasted turkey - which is Cook's Treat). I buy extra packages of hearts and giblets because there's never enough.

                    1. Neck goes into a pan with water and some seasonings to start a broth to be used for the gravy, the giblets (heart, liver, gizzard) get fried up in a little bit of butter. I eat the heart and gizzard, my husband makes me share the liver with him. :) I do the same with the giblets that come with roasting chickens, too.

                      1. Everything gets simmered and cut up for the cats and any remaining liquid gets spooned into their food a bit at a time. No humans consume it in my family. :-)

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          LindaWhit this is intriguing, just simmer until their done 20 minutes or so?

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            Yeah, about 20-30 minutes or so, fieldhawk. I usually just stick a fork into one of the items in the pan. Interestingly, I wrote that initial comment 5 years ago when I had Jaspurr and Scooter. They've both passed, and neither my current Alfie or Buster will eat the giblets. So unless a neighbor cat will eat them, they'll get tossed this year!

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              Aww I'm sorry to hear about your kitties! My little guy eats nearly anything that's related to an animal so I'm hoping he'll like it and that can be his thanksgiving dinner.

                        2. I absolutely insist on giblets and neck meat in both gravy and stuffing, and since I'm the cook I get my way! If anyone in the family (this is Mrs. O's family we're talking about) does not like these bits of innards that's just too damn bad, but I haven't heard any complaints. Some of the liver, I will say, goes only into the gravy, not the stuffing (it unbalances the flavor), but most of it goes into the cook, as his reward for a job well done.

                          1. After 30 years of "meaning to do something with them" and remembering that my folks always seemed to simmer these parts for some reason..... am happy to reconnect with my childhood. I ran out of dog food (horror! specialty stuff not to be found today so the dogs will be happy campers with the snacks THEY are going to receive and my gravy will be even BETTER than is always is. Happy Thanksgiving!

                            1. We take the liver, chop it and brown it in butter, and take the rest of the giblets and neck and simmer for stock for the gravy. The kitties get the used neck and giblets, then the liver gets puree'd into the stock, which is then used for gravy

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Popkin

                                I too use the giblets to make the stock for the gravy. I get the gizzard/heart/neck. The liver is roasted with the turkey and 'stick blended into the gravy. I like to make LOTS of gravy and I serve it boiling hot. Lately the Christmas dinner has been a buffet. I usually make enough gravy to have a couple of good size bowls full available.

                              2. The neck and giblets (including heart and liver) along with an extra package of chicken hearts and giblets are used to make the broth base for both the gravy and the stuffing. Once they are cooked the neck is discarded and the innards are diced and put back into the broth before it is used. YUMMM!!!!

                                1. For me and my family, we agreed that the giblets are usually put into bags as a convenience to throw them out. YUCK! Tee hee. I can't handle the thought. We do cook the neck in salted water to add to the gravy though. (The broth, not the neck)

                                  1. My Grandmother always started the cooking by starting all the "goodies" in a quart or so of water. They'd just simmer away, all day long, while the bird was cookiing... water added if it started getting low. There were 3-4 cups of broth for adding to stuffing that didn't fit IN the bird and added to gravy.

                                    Nana would pick EVERY bit of meat off the neck and set aside. After the feast, a BIG soup pot got the picked carcass to start stock for soup... that's where all those neck bits went. She'd add onions, carrots, celery and a REQUIRED?? bay leaf... never knew BL actually HAD a flavoe until I was married and bought my own!?! Hefty hand full of rice or some kinda noodles added.

                                      1. I boil them for turkey stock/gravy.

                                        The kitties enjoy the cooked meat from the neck, giblets, liver etc.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Kelli2006

                                          Gee, so do I! Back when we were having chicken at least twice a month, after dinner all the skin and bones and neck and gizzard would go into the ancient Crock-Pot, to which Mrs. O referred as the Shrine (Our Lady of Perpetual Broth), and there it would stew overnight. In the morning I'd pour it through several layers of cheesecloth set in a strainer, and then I would pick through the pieces for bits of meat, the kidneys buried in the hip bones, the gizzard … a lot of the original flavor had gone away, of course, but it had a character of its own that I enjoyed a lot. Now that I'm the Lone Omnivore in the house that no longer happens, but I did cook myself a poached chicken the other day - it was rainy here in SoCal and I felt like celebrating - and it was like old times, except I didn't have to share.

                                        2. We toss the heart and liver. I get the gizzard, DH gets the neck. We grill the turkey, and those are the quickest to get done. Cooks' treats.

                                          1. i eat them. pan fry on medium low for an hour or so with some garlic and salt. slice up the giblets and livers and chomp down on the neck. sprinkle lightly with soy sauce. :-))

                                            1. I am, right at this moment, eating the gizzard of the turkey I just picked up from the farm. It was slaughtered yesterday, so I have some wonderful fresh gizzard that I've just fried up in butter with salt and pepper and I'm having over toast. :)

                                              1. In years past, I tossed them. I did for the first time ever, giblet gravy. It came out good but I had to rely on others opinions. I don't eat gravy - gag. But I'm glad I didn't pitch them.

                                                1. I put them in the bottom of the roasting pan..under the rack. Before putting the turkey in to roast, I cover the bottom of the roasting pan with water ( maybe half inch). When I take the turkey out to baste, I add water to coat the bottom of the pan. After the turkey is done roasting, I used the resulting drippings as the base for the gravy. Makes a nice tasty gravy. After that I just toss the giblets and the neck.

                                                  1. The liver goes in a container in the freezer and stays until I accumulate enough poultry liver to go through the tedious process of broiling/washing as required by the rules of Kosher. Can't just cook and eat.
                                                    The gizzard and neck is just roasted in the pan with the bird. My wife gets the gizzard and the neck is my favoritte part of the bird. I try tpo buy extra necks to roast with the bird as they are loved by my siblings as well,
                                                    I don't use giblets in the gravy, but use some dark meat from the legs.
                                                    Our stuffing is NOT stuffing. We don't make it in the bird. Instead it is dressing, baked in a separate casserole and made without any meat product as we have a vegetarian niece and niece in law who make the stuffing and sides their main meal on Thanksgiving.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                      Can you explain the Kosher thing for livers to us? And, also, the reasons behind it? We don't live in a desert with no refrigeration any more, right?

                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                        For meat to be kosher, and the definition of kosher is "Fit for use in accordance with Jewish law" if must come from a animal that has split hooves and chews it cud. The animal must be inspected for no health defcts before slaughter, then slaughtered by a qualified ritual slaughterer. The carcass is then inspected to make sure the slaughter was done correctly and that there were no hidden defects.
                                                        Then the carcass may be broken down into primal secytions. In the USA, where beef is plentiful the hind quarteres are not used for kosher meat and they require very labor intensive work to remove certain forbidden parts prevalent in the hind quarters.
                                                        The meat from the kosher slaughtered animal must then be 'kashered' within 72 hours. For most meat this refere
                                                        s to the soaking and salting process to remove the blood.

                                                        BUT the liver has such a high concentration of the blood, that the only permitted way to 'kasher' is to cut an X with a sharp knife and broil to purge the blood. The broiled liver must then be washed before it can be processed further or eaten.

                                                        The broiling tray used for the liver cannot be used for cooking other kosher meat.

                                                        Because of this involved process, it is not worth the bother to 'kasher' and cook one lone turkey liver. Thus I accumulate poultry livers in the freezer until I have enough (2-3) pounds to make the effort worthwhile.

                                                        As for the reasons behind this. The expanded rules of Kosher dietary laws were set down in the Talmud and other post biblical Jewish codes some 1800 years ago.

                                                        If one accepts the Jewish Canon law as God given, or inspired and to be followed, one does so. It has nothing to do with living in a desert without refrigeration. That is a 'Modern' (post 1840) excuse of Western Jews for abandoning the dietary laws.

                                                        Mrs. B is the expert Chopped Liver maker -prize winning. She uses 1/3 poultry, 1/3 beef and 1/3 calves liver in her mix. This caries the texture and intensity of flavor.

                                                      2. re: bagelman01


                                                        I'm with you on the Turkey neck being "my favorite part of the bird", roasted along with the turkey and removed prior to the bird being done the neck is truly a tasty treat!!!

                                                        1. re: ospreycove

                                                          In the B family, my siblings, parents, etc, as opposed to wife and children. Parts were what interested us, not sliced meat. Mom always made an extra 6 wings and 4 necks for Thanksgiving. My older brother has a scar from 4 fork tines in hos right wrist. When I was 14, I caught him in the act of trying to steal the wing from my plate while I was plassing a platter to someone else.

                                                          In addition to just roasting the necks in the pan, if I am able to get extra necks I like to make Helzel. This is a dish where one sews the neck within skin and stuffs with a farina and veg mix and roasts to a golden brown.

                                                      3. People TOSS these things? What a waste of goodies.

                                                        Liver and heart get fried up immediately in a good amount of butter, bacon or duck fat -- whichever's available -- until just med-rare, then tossed with maple balsamic vinegar after which they are inhaled within seconds.

                                                        The neck is simmered, and I will usually just gnaw off the meat.

                                                        Gizzards need to have the shit cooked out of them (not literally, of course -- wrong body part '-)), and they're best chopped really finely and added to the gravy.

                                                        You cannot imagine my disappointment after thanksgiving when I learned that, as opposed to last year, Wegmans had no fresh turkeys leftover, so the shelves were full of leftover livers, hearts and necks. Shame.