In our never ending search for intriguing foods, a jackpot was hit with what has to be the mother of all unhealthy menus.
Heart stopping, artery clogging foods are favorites all over the world and the American Midwest is certainly no exception.
In Michigan, it’s Pasties in the U.P., cherry pies in Traverse City and the great Coney Island dogs in Flint. But for real gut busting, cholesterol increasing, Wolverine State food nothing beats a gizzard.
That’s right, a good ole chicken gizzard, fried up and thrown down at the gizzard capital of the world, Joe’s Gizzard City.
About 15 miles South of Lansing, in Potterville, Michigan we discovered the undisputed king of the cooked chicken ventriculus.
That’s just a fancy way of saying gizzard. It’s part of a bird’s digestive system that grinds up food and is where the word giblets originated.
Gizzards are a popular food throughout the world, served grilled in Asia, stewed in Portugal, curried or barbecued in Pakistan, with mashed potatoes or a Perigordian Salad in France, in gumbo or even pickled here in the States.
But for real greasy gizzard flavor, they’ve got to be battered up and deep fried.
Battered and fried is what Joe’s Gizzard City does best! Not just gizzards, the fine chefs at Joe’s will fry up anything and everything. All of the usual suspects are there on the menu — fish, onions, shrimp, potatoes and even cheese.
But the true CPR inducting, defibrillating, rib spreading bang for your buck has got to be the Triple D Burger.
A whopping third pound of ground cow topped with onions, pickles, tomatoes and American cheese, dipped in batter and doused in hot grease. Bun and all.
Consult your physician before attempting to eat this puppy, as most insurance carriers count the Triple D as a preexisting condition.
If that’s still not enough, perhaps some deep fried meatballs, pickles or olives on the side will round out the meal.
Well then try the Battered Dog Melt. Nothing like two hotdogs battered, deep fried and covered in chili and cheese for a light snack. Joe has even figured out a way to fry up spinach dip in stick form.
That’s just messed up. Seriously.
Be sure to save room for dessert. Really, how can cheesecake, Oreos or ice cream get any better? Well by coating them in batter and deep frying them of course.
The granddaddy of them all has to be the “Frinkie.”
A deep fried spongy snack cake smothered in caramel and chocolate sauces, slathered with whipped cream topped off with a cherry. The candy cherry allows one gets some fruit with one’s meal!
On our visit, we decided to stick to the namesake and order the famous original gizzards.
The menu called it a half pound, but it was more than enough for a big snack for both of us… with a lot left over.
Joe, Jr. must have some kind of wacky scale back there in the kitchen. Maybe he inherited it from his dad Joe, Sr., as Joe’s has been passed
down from generation to generation of the Bristol family since 1960.
Gizzard City guarantees that their gizzards are so tender you can cut them with a spoon and they were. Asking around, we discovered the secret is that they are pounded and boiled before being dipped and fried.
Served “bite-sized” in a basket with cocktail sauce, we popped the little nuggets down our gullets until our grease quotient had been met and surpassed. Tasty enough, but for us, a little went a long way.
While they’ve been known to batter and fry almost anything at Joe’s, it’s the gizzards that make them world renowned.
They go through 400 pounds of the battered bird bites every week.
And speaking of batter, Joe knows how to use that too, to the tune of about 25 pounds a day. Now that may sound like a lot of breading and chicken parts, CUZ IT IS, but that won’t last a couple hours during the true gizzard chowing madness of Gizzard Fest.
Every June for nearly a decade now, downtown Potterville — both blocks of it — is cordoned off for the one and only festival of gizzard gluttony… Gizzard Fest.
Three days of music, dancing, tractors, fireworks, food, beer and the star of the show… gizzards.
The undisputed highlight of the weekend is the big gizzard eating contest. Two thousand pounds of poultry parts are prepared for the perfervid participants.
The contestant to consume two pounds of fricasseed chicken guts fastest is crowned the champion. This is often closely followed by the less public gizzard puking ceremony.
We stumbled upon Joe’s Gizzard City completely by accident. Lured in by the big fiberglass chicken on the side of the interstate, we just followed the droplets of grease leading to the front door.
So now the next time you’re thinking, gee, I sure could go for some gizzards, you’ll know right where to get them.
Just don’t get them stuck in your craw.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com