Barbecued balon-balonan ng manok, or chicken gizzards, is a popular street food in the Philippines. Along with barbecued chicken feet, pork ears and isaw (intestines), it is a favorite finger food that goes well with beer. I find them too tough though. So, on January of 2004 when my blog was less than a year old, I did a home-cooked version—definitely tastier and oh, so tender too! But that blog post had a terrible photo. And the recipe wasn’t formatted either to comply with today’s web standards. So, here’s an updated recipe accompanied by better photos.
Gizzards, with the liver attached, are sometimes sold together with the dressed chicken. In the Philippines, being a delicacy, frozen gizzards are also sold separately in wet markets and most supermarkets. In wet markets, they are sold together with the livers. Diced and sautéed, they go well with vegetables.
But what is a gizzard? It is the muscular stomach of birds. Click here to read all the details and why you should pay attention to the preparation process. Done reading about gizzards? Then, wonder no more why the preparation procedure outlined in the recipe below requires careful work.
As to how to make sure that you don’t get tough and rubbery gizzards off the grill, the technique is in pre-cooking the gizzards in the marinade before grilling them over live coals. This gives the gizzards time to absorb the flavors in the marinade as well as for the meat fibers to break up. And since what goes to the grill are fully cooked gizzards, grilling time is only about 8 minutes. That’s all that’s needed to give them texture and smoky flavor.
Balon–balonan (Gizzard) Barbecue
- Rinse the gizzards well. Inspect each and every one. Pull out and discard any fatty tissues attached to them--especially all yellowish grainy bits attached to them. Remember that the gizzard is the muscular stomach of the chicken and all impurities attached to it are undigested food that the bird had eaten before it was slaughtered. You definitely want to remove all that.
- When you've removed all the nasty bits from the gizzards, rinse them again then drain. Place them in a non-reactive bowl and pour the vinegar over them. Leave them there for 10 minutes then rinse again. Discard the vinegar.
- Place the now clean gizzards in a pot and add enough water to cover. Add the salt, peppercorns, ginger, garlic, shallot and bay leaf. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half depending on how large the gizzards are. If the liquid dries out before the gizzards are done, just add a cup of water each time.
- While the gizzards simmer, soak the bamboo skewers in water. This will prevent them from catching fire on the grill.
- When the gizzards are done, drain and cool. When cool enough to handle, if they are rather large, you may cut them into bite-size pieces. It's optional, really, because they are very tender at this point and tearing them with your teeth should be a breeze.
- Preheat your grill. High heat will be necessary. The gizzards will be on the grill only for a short time and you really want the heat to lick as much of their surface with gusto.
- Thread a few pieces of gizzard in each bamboo skewer. Repeat until all the gizzards have been skewered.
- In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the basting sauce.
- Brush the gizzards all over with the sauce.
- Grill the gizzards over intensely high heat. Just two minutes or so per side. You may baste them a few times during grilling. How brown and scorched you want them is entirely up to you. Remember though that the basting sauce contains honey and that burns fast.
- Serve your grilled gizzards as an appetizer or, with rice, as a main course. A side salad is always nice.