Monday, January 31, 2011

INGREDIENTS - Gizzards (Moela)

When I was a kid, our family was pretty vanilla when it came to the foods that were put on the table - nothing to strange or exotic really. The family's idea of something foreign and sophisticated was lasagne. We ate a lot of meat and potatos (and casseroles!) Certainly no sweetbreads, tripe, or even much in the way of liver. However, from time to time, my mother would serve a dinner in which the main course was sautéed chicken gizzards. Where did that come from? I really don't know but as a kid I loved them. With a chewy, muscular texture, and meaty taste, I thought they were wonderful.

Later, I lost my taste for gizzards, based probably on cultural prejudices against organ meats, I stopped eating them. Offal and awful were synonymous to me. For a long time I didn't give gizzards a second thought. Moving to Brazil, though, has brought gizzards (called moela here) back to mind. They are a favorite food of many Brazilians, and along with chicken hearts, a favorite bar food. While chicken hearts are normally served grilled on a skewer, gizzards in Brazil most often come braised in a sauce and are served with chunks of French bread to sop up the sauce. Sometimes the sauce is spicy, sometimes it is tomatoey and herbal, and sometimes it's just a quick gravy made with the pan juices. But it's almost always delicious.

Served with rounds of icy-cold Brazilian lager beer, and shared, along with the conversation, among friends around the table in a boteco or bar, gizzards make a marvelous light meal. If you've never been a gizzard-eater, or like me had forgotten about them, return them to their rightful place on the plate. You might be very pleasantly surprised.

In the next post on Flavors of Brazil, I'll provide a typical Brazilian recipe for gizzards sparked with a sophisticated, contemporary twist.

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