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What are Gizzards?

As the weather gets warmer, more opportunities to entertain arise. But with all the parties of the season hosted by numerous people, how do you get your event to stand out? A killer menu with familiar and traditional but uncommon dishes will definitely do the job. I like to offer an all-encompassing selection of world foods when I entertain, and one of my favorites to serve is peppered gizzards.

As the name implies, the dish is made with chicken gizzards that are cooked in a spicy sauce. The gizzard organ is present in all birds, and its purpose is to grind food to a pulp to extract all the nutrients from the feed for easy absorption by the bird (like teeth in most animals). Because this organ works overtime, it is often muscular with several rows of roughened surfaces and is covered with a tough, yellowish layer designed to protect the bird from stones and other potentially dangerous substances.

Chicken gizzards are nutritionally dense and are healthier than fattier cuts of beef or pork and are rich in protein and packed with zinc, iron and vitamin B12. Together, these nutrients aid a healthy immune system and help us to better fight off disease. The drawback to chicken gizzards is that they also are relatively high in cholesterol, and as such, should be eaten only occasionally to get the best health benefits.

Gizzards are very popular in world cuisine and can be prepared numerous ways such as stewed, fried, grilled or roasted and can be served with anything from soups to salads.

Gizzards also are popular in African culture, particularly in Nigeria, where they are served as part of “small chops.” My rendition of this Nigerian classic results in a sweet, spicy and savory dish. Peppered gizzards make for a wonderful appetizer and are served with tiny skewers to pick up the individual pieces of meat. I like to serve the dish with chilled white wine or a glass of cold beer.