The thrifty Italian Jewish cook wasted no part of the chicken. And it’s easy for us to buy inexpensive giblets for this rich and delectable risotto. Donatella Pavoncello, in her delightful Dal 1880 ad oggi: la cucina dalla mia famiglia, cooks the rice in the giblet sauce and spoons some reserved sauce on top. I find it’s easier to make the sauce, cook the rice, and then combine the two. That way you don’t run the risk of gummy overcooked rice. Incidentally, this sauce is also wonderful tossed with pappardelle.
¾ pound assorted chicken giblets (gizzards, hearts, and livers)
5 tablespoons olive oil, plus oil for sautéing livers (optional)
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups dry red or white wine
7 cups chicken broth
2 cups Arborio rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup peeled, seeded, and diced plum tomatoes (fresh or canned)
Trim the livers, cutting away any connective pieces and any dark spots. Cut into large bite-sized pieces, keeping the lobes in tact as much as possible. Refrigerate until needed. Trim the chicken hearts of fat.
Trim all the fat, connective tissue, and gristle from the gizzards, leaving just the meaty parts.
Warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 of the onions, the carrots, and the celery and sauté until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and the gizzards and hearts and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the wine and let it bubble up in the pan. When it is reduced by half, add enough of the broth to barely cover the gizzards and hearts (about 2 cups). Simmer over low heat until tender, about 1 hour or so. Remove the giblets from the pan with a slotted spoon, transfer to a cutting board, and chop coarsely. Set the giblets aside.
Pour the remaining broth (about 5 cups) into a saucepan and bring to a simmer; adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining diced onion and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and stir until opaque, about 3 minutes. Add a ladleful (about 1 cup) of the simmering broth and stir for 3 to 4 minutes until the broth is absorbed. Reduce the heat and continue to add the broth a ladleful at a time, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until the rice kernels are al dente at the center and creamy on the outside, 18 to 20 minutes in all.
Meanwhile, cook the chicken livers: If you want to keep this kosher, broil the livers until cooked through. If not, you may sauté them in a separate pan in olive oil until golden on the outside and still pink at the center. Season with salt and pepper and set aside; keep warm.
Just before the rice is ready, stir in the giblets and tomatoes and warm through. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and garnish with the chicken livers.
From “Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen” by Joyce Goldstein, Chronicle Books