Contains: Offal, nightshades. Is: Easy, gluten-free, paleo, Whole30.
The source for this recipe was a video from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNLJEFweHFs
Hearts from pastured animals ARE heart healthy. More discussion at the end of this recipe.
The source recipe used beef heart; I had the very similar bison heart to hand.
The source recipe used aji panca paste – I had aji amarilla paste to hand. Panca is less hot and more smokey in flavor than aji amarilla. Use or adapt what you have. Both are genuinely Peruvian. And yes, the peppers these are based upon differ from those commonly seen in Mexican (or Tex-Mex) cuisine.
Ideally, I only cook high temperature foods using either avocado oil or grapeseed oil. (Recipes calling for ghee, or duck fat, say, are a bit different.) Still planning my commentary post on types of cooking oils and fats, but not yet.
Prep Time: 15 minutes hands-on plus 8 – 24 hours marinating time.
Cook Time: 2-3 minutes per side.
Rest Time: 2-5 minutes.
Leftovers: Yes, best to cook the uncooked skewers later. Or, cook it all, and add the leftover heart to a cold salad. Or, say, to tacos.
Peruvian Anticuchos – Beef or Bison Heart
- 2 pounds cow (or bison) heart
- 1/3 cup aji panca paste. I used aji amarillo paste – hotter, less smokey.
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon oregano, preferably Mexican oregano.
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt to taste
- Garlic (minced or powder) is optional.
Clean the heart – slice off any fat – it is a very hard fat that surrounds the outer side of the heart, and will not render down. If there are any veins or arteries or valves still present, cut them out and discard. They will not be tender, ever.
Slice the meat into strips, about 1/3rd inch thick or so. Cut the strips to about 2-3 inches in length, this can vary.
Mix all the other ingredients together, and add in the heart meat, and coat the heart meat thoroughly with this marinate. Refrigerate and let marinate 8 – 24 hours, occasionally mixing again to ensure coverage.
Add the strips to skewers, longitudinally. (If wooden skewers, soak for an an hour or two in water so they don’t burn). Break off the handling ends if your skewers won’t fit into your intended skillet otherwise. Mop up some more of the marinate onto the skewered heart meat.
Using a quality cooking oil (ie, avocado or grapeseed), add a small layer to your skillet. Turn the burner to medium/medium high. When a drop of water splatters, you are ready to cook.
Lay each skewer down away from you (to keep from splattering on yourself) and cook each side for 2-3 minutes, depending on the heat level and your preferred done-ness. NOTE!!! this method is best for medium-rare meat – if you like your meat medium well or further, you WILL turn this dish into Shoe Leather! The heart is a hard-working organ, treat it with respect!
You may need to make several loads of skewers into the skillet – don’t attempt to make them all fit at one time if they won’t.
Serve with your favorite potato or rice dish.
It is also possible to grill the heart skewers – grill briefly over hot coals (or a hot side of a propane grill). Flip, cook further, and serve.
The Heart Healthy Heart: This is a muscle, and it doesn’t ever stop working until the very end. Although the muscle itself is devoid of much fat, the taste and flavor is good. You have a choice of doing beef or bison heart meat (or lamb or goat heart) either quick and served to about medium rare – or low and slow, say as a stew, or stuffed. You can also simmer the entire thing for a long time in a broth, but you’ll lose some of the great flavor of this meat. (I do NOT recommend medium rare for pig or poultry hearts!, and I always take into consideration the source of my other meats.)
Being vegetarian or vegan is not necessarily healthier than being an omnivore. It all depends on the specific food items one chooses to indulge in. As well as their sources, and frequency of the eating thereof. I used to know a Starchitarian – she called herself a vegetarian, but she didn’t eat most vegetables unless in the form of tomato salsa, or potatoes. Or, as corn chips for that salsa. I met her very shortly after she became a self-proclaimed vegetarian – and in the scant year I knew her, she put on well over 50 pounds. (A friend of mine brought a vegetarian casserole to a potluck that was awesomely good, knowing she was “vegetarian” – she turned it down – didn’t like vegetables.)
The human body does need a source of culinary fat. And it does better on quality sources of carbs.
The ingredients in my aji amarillo paste: (Dona Isabel brand from Peru) Yellow hot pepper, salt, citric acid, sodium benzoate. There’s no reason that aji panca paste would vary other than using panca peppers. Nothing unhealthy here.
My first encounter with Peruvian anticuchos was at a restaurant in Bethel, Connecticut. This was some years back, and I’d stopped in there on a lark. I’ve been wanting to cook this ever since, and ended up making this for a friend and I back in February. (She made the rice dish seen in a photo near the top, and I made the salad with an avocado dressing. She also created a lovely dessert for our repast.)
The Peruvian restaurant is now closed, a probable victim of COVID-19. In the evenings, it appeared to be more of a watering hole, anyway – the best times to go there was at lunchtime. But I thank the place for introducing me to anticuchos. And especially this marinate – which I will next try using chicken thighs! I am also considering this recipe for a vegan lark, using chopped cauliflower, although I don’t think those will skewer well.