View Full Version : Anticuchos
11-07-2010, 04:31 PM
From Time/Life's Foods of the World: Latin American Cooking - 1968
One typical product of charcoal cookery, the delight of rich and poor, is anticuchos, the popular Peruvian equivalent of the hot dog but much better eating. Anticuchos are pieces of beef heart, somewhat less than one inch across, from which all tough tissue has been removed. The pieces are marinated overnight in spiced vinegar and then impaled by sixes on thin skewers of sharpened cane. While grilling over the coals, they are brushed with a hot sauce of oil, aji*, and spices applied, traditionally, with a feather or a strip of cornhusk. The sauce cooks into them, and more can be added after they are done.
Anticuchos are really delicious. they are served as hors d'oeuvre before a formal meal but are also sold on the streets and in parks, especially during fiestas. People of all ages are addicted to them, and children come back from celebrations boasting of how many they have eaten. Anticuchos of a sort can be made from other things, such as seafood, beef, liver or kidney, or of many meats in alternation on the skewer. But these are corruptions. True anticuchos are made only of beef heart, whose odd, crisp texture has much to do with their effect. Beef heart has the further advantage of being very cheap; a cookout of anticuchos is more trouble than one of hot dogs, but is immeasurably superior.
*Note from Tas - Aji is the Peruvian colloquialism for local chiles; mirasol, hontaka and japone chiles are all, as far as i can tell, different names for the same chile, which is universally known as aji in Peru.
Skewered Spiced Beef Heart with Chile Sauce
To serve 8 to 10:
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. finely-chopped, seeded and de-ribbed fresh hot red chile
4 tsp. finely-chopped garlic
2 tsp. ground cumin seeds
2 tsp. salt
freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried hontaka (japone or mirasol) chiles
1 Tbsp. annatto (achiote) seeds, pulverized with a mortar and pestle
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
A 4- to 5-pound beef heart, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, fresh chile, garlic, cumin, salt and a few grindings of pepper. Add the cubes of beef heart. If the marinade doesn't cover the beef heart, add more vinegar. Refrigerate, covered, for 24 hours. Remove the beef heart from the marinade and set them both aside.
Break the dried chiles in half and brush out the seeds. place the chiles in a bowl, pour 3/4 cup of boiling water over them and let them soak for 30 minutes. Drain the chiles and discard the soaking water. Combine the chiles and 3/4 cup of the reserved marinade, the annatto, oil and salt in the jar of a blender and puree at high speed for 15 seconds. (To make the sauce by hand, puree the soaked chiles through a food mill into a bowl. Discard any pulp left in the mill. Stir in 3/4 cup of marinade, the annatto oil and salt.)
Light a layer of coals in a charcoal broiler and let them burn until white ash appears on the surface. Or preheat the broiler of the oven to its highest point. String the beef heart cubes on skewers and brush them with sauce. Broil 3 inches from the heat for 3 to 4 minutes, turning the skewers frequently and basting once or twice with the remaining sauce. Serve hot.
Here's an alternate recipe that was given to me by a friend in Germany:
He also warns not to grill too long, so that the anticuchos remain tender.
I have a couple of good-sized deer hearts and will, in all likelihood , give this a try in the coming days, unless my older boys use them first! If that does happen, I'll have to wait until we have a couple more.
11-07-2010, 05:23 PM
Cool, Thanks. :thumb:
11-07-2010, 05:27 PM
hmmm my try it with gizzards.
11-08-2010, 06:11 PM
hey, kyote -
i'm not sure you'll get the "anticuchos experience" using gizzards due to the special crispy texture that large mammal hearts take on when subjected to grilling. having said that, the flavours themselves should be all there and should provide a really good party in your mouth!
if you give it a try, let me know how you like it.
11-09-2010, 06:02 AM
be careful using wild deer hearts.
Bear in mind that wild animals are prone to parasites and these often end up in the offal.
Other than that - definitely one for the bbq season next year. I'm a big fan of heart as a meat in its own right.
Great in stews - never thought to grill it :thumb:
Nice one. :-)
11-09-2010, 12:17 PM
hey, CA - i hear what you are saying, but speaking only for myself it is pretty much the last thing i worry about when eating local deer that i have shot, butchered and packaged myself. over 25 years of bringing in my own meat from the field has taught me that i can trust that meat far more than i do pork or poultry from some plant. in my opinion, venison is the ultimate "free range" meat.
having said that, there is no reason NOT to be careful, and it is always a good idea to practice safe handling and cooking procedures; simply take the same precautions with venison that you would with any meat and things will be fine.
regardless, i would never let it keep me from enjoying some good eats scuh as this promises to be! i think you will be impressed and look forward to hearing about your results when you try this.
11-09-2010, 02:22 PM
I had my first deer heart this past week. We just sliced it up a fried it like back strap. Its wasnt what I expected. Very tastey. I will have to give this a run this hunting season. Thanks for sharing!!
11-10-2010, 07:27 AM
sliced and fried - wasn't it a bit tough ?
Never considered doing it like that.
Nothing to do with whether it's game or not and all to do with heart being the most efficient muscle in the body. Always worked on the assumption it was a tough cut and needed lots of cooking.
11-11-2010, 02:39 PM
alright, i had the day off today, so i began preparations of the anticuchos, putting together the marinade that they will be in until we cook them tomorrow evening. i am not very happy with the photography today, but hopefully these will give you an idea of how i went about this.
here are the goods for the entire dish (not pictured: olive oil):
clockwise beginning with the "8 o'clock position" around the three deer hearts: chiles japones (for the sauce), garlic, ground cumin, red wine vinegar, sea salt, ground black pepper, mexican oregano, achiote entero (annato seeds) and dried guajilla chiles (for the marinade).
two ingredients of note: a) the two recipes above are basically the same, except one includes oregano, which i decided to incorporate into this project. b) also, the sauce will get its unique colour and flavour from the use of the achiote seeds, which are the heart of many latin american creations.
at first, my intention was to use the guajillos in the marinade, since my wife is very much the polar opposite of a chile-head - however, as i was assembling everything, she told me there was no way on earth that she was going to eat heart, so i decided to switch them out for some fresh chiles that my sister gave to me (i think they are cayennes?).
this was fine with me, since they are most likely closer to what is originally intended anyway.
here are the cayennes after rinsing, seeding and de-ribbing:
after chopping up a tablespoon's worth and putting them in a container to hold the marinade and heart cubes,
i then added 1 cup of red wine vinegar,
and 4 teaspoons' worth of chopped garlic:
msot of it was chopped nice and fine, and sank to the bottom, but a few of the bigger pieces (and evidently a little bit of skin from the cloves) floated to the top.
next came 2 teaspoons each of sea salt and cumin, and just about a teaspoon of black pepper:
and then a very generous tablespoon of the oregano:
the marinade recipe did not call for any oil, so i resisted the urge to add any.
with the marinade completed, i turned my attention to the three deer hearts. first, i cut off the membranaeous tops and trimmed the biggest share of the fat off the outsides:
and then, starting at the top, cut off rings somewhere around an inch wide. after cutting the ring open, i trimmed the gristly portions:
then sectioned them off into cubes:
farther down the heart, there was no need to trim any gristle, so i simply cut them into rings :
the bottom inch or so of the hearts was simply quartered.
as i cubed the heart up, i dropped the pieces into the marinade, which was giving off a wonderful aroma due to the melange of herbs and spices that made it up.
the container proved to be a bit too small for everything, so i transfered the project to a larger one; i noticed that, as the recipe predicted, there wasn't quite enough marinade, so i added half-again as much of everything. this completed, i then stirred the entire lot, covered the container and put it in the fridge for the next 24 (actually more like 30) hours. periodically, we will stir the cubes in the marinade in order to distribute the flavours.
tomorrow, the preparation of the sauce, the grilling, and the results!
11-22-2010, 03:34 PM
alright, for those of you who have been waiting to see how this goes, i can say without a a doubt that the marinade and the sauce are outstanding and i highly recommend them for any number of uses, either individually or together. here are the results of the anticuchos project that was a true success.
caveat: i would have preferred grilling thse on our backyard gas grill or, better yet, over a charcoal or wood fire, but weather and time intervened so i used the voen broiler. this is a great dish, but it is safe to say that it is even better over some sort of flame. also, the prescribed marinading time (written for beef hear) is 24 hours. as results will show, deer heart should marinate for a length of time that is much shorter; otherwise, the meat will be a bit soft in texture, yet still very flavourful.
when we left you in suspense, we had just finished putting the chunks of deer heart into the marinade. the next day, we put the very savory, spicy sauce together. as per the recipe, we began by putting some dried hontaka (japone) chiles in some boiling-hot water to soak for a half-hour or so:
meanwhile, we took the chunks of heart out of the fridge and drained the marinade, reserving some for the sauce.
the marination had transformed the heart chunks from bright maroon-red to greyish brown, and the aroma from the various herbs and spices infused into the meat was really a wonderful combination
while the chiles soaked, we combined the other ingredients for the sauce and gave them a quick whirl in the blender:
with the annato (achiote) seeds in there, i had expected the mixture to be more reddish in colour, but no matter - it got plenty red later when i added the chiles.
we also loaded the chunks of heart onto skewers:
and laid the skewers out on cookie sheets lined with foil:
by this time, the dried chiles had soaked up plenty of water, and swelled nearly to bursting:
so we tossed them into the blender with the beginnings of the sauce:
and hit the switch:
the result looked and smelled wonderful and brought about true images of latin america, the andes and the treasures of peru:
i have said it before and will continue to say it: if you cannot travel to a place, the next best thing is to research the food there and try it!
after brushing the sauce onto the marinated and skewered anticuchos,
we put them into the oven under the broiler and waited for the sizzle. a few turnings and brushings of more suace later, we brought them out and were greeted with a very nice sight:
once, again, i will reiterate that the preferred way would have been to grill them over fire of some kind, but this was an acceptable substitute. i tried to balance the desire for seared meat with the admonision to not let them get too over-cooked and believe that i achieved a farily-sane balance.
on the spur of the moment, we decided to serve the anticuchos two ways. one way was simply on the skewers with a side or rice:
and the other was to top some rice with the anticuchos and some of the remaining sauce:
very good, either way, but once again i will warn you, dear reader: if you make this with any sort of venison heart, do not mainate the chunks as long as called for in the recipe. two factors come into play here: the first is that the chunks of heartwill not be the prescribed 1-inch square, due to the smaller size of deer heart. the other factor is that venison is naturally more tender than beef. these two factors combine and produce a reality that is this: smaller vension heart cubes simply do not need as much time marinating as larger, tougher beef heart cubes. we did not take this into account, and consequently our anticuchos were rather soft and even a little mushy in texture. we were unable to enjoy the crispy-seared quality that i had been looking forward to, but i will say again they tasted very good and all of the flavours we were attempting came forth very well. if i had to guess as to a time that would work better for marinating venison heart chunks, i would say 6-8 hours, but this is only a guess.
that aside, here are some after-action reports. i have never been very enthusiastic about eating organ meats or "variety cuts," but this was definitely some very good food. the rst of the family, as usual, split down the middle. mrs; tas absolutely refused to try them, not only because they were made from heart, but also because they were spicy and made from deer. where the kids were concerned, two of the boys liked them, a third wasn't impressed, and my oldest son never did give an opinion other than saying they were hotter than hell and ran into the kitchen to quench the fires with quite a bit of something cold and wet.
i personally found them to be quite spicy, but in a good way that was not oppressive. to me, the marinade and sauce, prepared as per the recipe, brought out all of the flavours and just enough of the spicy heat to make this a truly interesting dish. i did like the anticuchos, but must confess i would probably have liked them better if they would have been made with steak cubes rather than heart.