#84: Niger

“No one is born a great cook. One learns by doing”

It’s nothing really new, the idea that practice makes perfect. But I think it’s important because of what I constantly hear when I start a discussion to the tune of: “I baked x, y, z…” and people immediately say, “I can’t cook or bake or whatever.” I can’t fly a plane either, but I’m sure if I took a few lessons or practiced it, my odds would greatly improve. It’s the same thing with all the best things in life, practice makes perfect. I would encourage you all to go outside your normal comfort zone in so many things— but especially cooking. This was our way of doing that and it’s made an exponential difference in our culinary skills so far, and we were already good cooks going into it.

THE DINNER: We decided to hit up Niger for some Central African food this weekend. Interestingly enough, the first recipe I found on my weekly search was for chicken gizzards… and I knew that this was that we needed to cook because it immediately freaked me out a little. Now, like many of you, I have actually had gizzards before, but they’ve always been hidden in things like stuffing or gravy and not the main center of attention in the meal. My mom, when she was living out on the farm, used to eat these protein powerhouses for her marathon training. So I for one was excited to see what it was all about. In Niger it’s called “Gizdodo”.

Like so many of the other nations on the continent, it was an recipe that was altogether colorful and simple. They are all about the one-pot-wonders out there for already discussed reasons. This was also a recipe that featured plantains… which equally freak me out because I am a staunch hater of bananas 😉 none the less, my personal New Years Resolution is to try everything that scares me. So away we go!!

Gizdodo Recipe: http://www.nigerianfoodtv.com/2013/08/dodo-gizzard-nigerian-gizdodo-gizzards.html

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five this meal!
This one was actually sort of tricky. I’m not sure how many people still know how to clean/prep gizzard meat, but I for one was truthfully lost. There’s quite a lot of trimming and prepping that goes part and parcel with this one. I also was fascinated about how to make sure that they are cooked through, like so many poultry meats, they were tricky to sense “doneness” as it’s a firmness thing and not a color thing like seafood. After all that though, it was a few veggies and the plantains and like I mentioned above, it’s a one pot meal. Gizzards are also not super hard to find, though they are an “exotic” meat in many grocers.

Best dish of all time scale: TWO STARS out of five for Meal!!
This was hard for me to rank. It was actually pretty on the plate. It was colorful and sharp with the mix of habanero and two types of onion. I liked the creaminess of the plantain, which was absolutely surprising. It was clean to grab a fork full of gizzard, pepper, onion and plantain because all the flavors played so well together. So why the two? It just wasn’t good. The meat was not our “cup of tea”– it was tough and sort of gamey in texture and taste which I felt off put us on the meal in general. It was yummy, but in small amounts. It’s more of a side dish in my opinion. It was overpowering.

We head to another sort of neighboring African country with Ethiopia for #85!! I actually have several very good work collegues and friends that are Ethiopian, so this country is one that I’m stoked for. Those are some people who seriously know how to cook a good meal!

Stay warm, Bronco’s fans!
– L & K

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