Peruvians love their seasoned and grilled snacks of beef heart, liver and chicken gizzards, often served at snack shops with 2-inch-wide wheels of corn on the cob or fried potatoes with a red chili sauce.
Serve these anticuchos with slices of grilled cooked sweet potato.
Beef heart is available at Asian and Latin markets and at some butcher shops, where it may be kept frozen. It's best to call ahead for availability, and ask the butcher to prep the meat for you. A very hot fire is essential to cook the heart properly.
Make Ahead: The beef heart must be marinated for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
Servings: 8 - 10
- 3 tablespoons corn oil
- 1 tablespoon ground achiote (annatto seed)
- 1/2 fresh or canned aji amarillo pepper, minced (1 to 2 tablespoons)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 5 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 6 pounds beef heart, cleaned and cut into 1 1/2-inch-by-2-inch rectangular pieces (see NOTE and headnote; may substitute chicken gizzards)
Place the oil in a small heatproof container; microwave on HIGH for 10 to 20 seconds. Add the achiote, stirring to form a paste. Transfer to a large resealable plastic food storage bag.
Combine the aji amarillo and water in a mini food processor; pulse to form a pastelike puree. Add to the bag, along with the salt, cumin, pepper, garlic and vinegar; mix well.
Add the pieces of beef heart; seal the bag, pressing as much air out of it as possible. Massage the marinade into the meat. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
When ready to cook, soak several 12-inch-long bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes, or have ready metal skewers.
Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to high (650 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area. For a hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 1 or 2 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.
Push 4 or 5 pieces of seasoned meat close together, end to end, on each skewer, reserving the marinade. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes (for medium-rare), turning the skewers as needed and using the marinade to brush the meat.
NOTE: To prep a thoroughly defrosted beef heart, cut it into quarters. Trim off and discard the interior veins and membranes, leaving a shell that is about 1/2-inch thick. Rinse well in cold water.
Adapted from "The Exotic Kitchens of Peru," by Copeland Marks (M. Evans and Co., 1999).
Tested by Melissa McCart.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.