Is there something more Peruvian than anticuchos? These cow´s heart kebabs have been part of the gastronomic history of our country since colonial times, and they are present in almost every creolle celebration. They are great fare for an outdoors lunch, after a soccer match (which we call “futbol”), or any time you’re hungry or craving a tasty piece of meat. Usually accompanied by traditional Peruvian music, guitars and cajón, (the instrument created by African descendants), street anticuchos are also a great snack on the go.
These strongly seasoned skewers are deeply engraved in the soul of every Peruvian. They all grew up watching anticucheras -the women who cook and sell anticuchos on the streets- surrounded by big clouds of smoke and a bunch of customers ready to be delighted by these meaty morsels, plain boiled potatoes, boiled fresh corn, and several ají sauces. Those are the traditional sides for anticuchos, and the best ones because the dish is already so tasty that not much else is needed.
To obtain the best anticuchos the meat should be perfectly cleaned, cut and seasoned. It needs to marinate in a mixture of ají panca, (which adds not only heat but that smoky and earthy flavor of dried chili pepper as well), garlic, cumin, vinegar, salt and pepper. Season anticuchos carefully but do not make them too spicy because ají sauces will be served with them so everyone can moderate the heat on their dish. Cook them briefly and be ready to enjoy the texture of this meat, different to any other. (If you’re not adventurous and like to stick to more traditional meats, you just use beef or chicken, like in our chicken anticuchos recipe).
An icy cold beer, Inca Kola, Pisco sour or chicha morada are recommended drinks, but feel free to choose any beverage of your preference. And for dessert? Picarones, of course! (Recipe coming up next week, stay tuned!) Mazamorra morada and rice pudding are two other favorites.
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- 1heart of cow or veal, clean and cut in squares (use chicken or beef if you prefer)
- ½cup ají panca paste
- 1tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 Russet potatoes, boiled, peeled, and cut in thick slices
- 2 Peruvian giant kernel corns, boiled, and cut in thick slices
- To serve:
- Aji amarillo paste mixed with chopped scallions and salt
- Before cutting the heart, clean it thoroughly, take out any veins and sinew. Cut in squares of 1 ½ inch by side.
- In a bowl, combine ají panca paste, garlic, vinegar, oregano, oil, salt, and cumin. Add the heart cubes, and marinate for at least three hours.
- Make a brush with fresh corn husks, to baste the anticuchos.
- When ready, thread three or four heart pieces in bamboo skewers, and grill at medium heat, basting with the marinade, using the corn husks brush, until cooked through (about three minutes each side).
- Take them off the heat, put on plates, and serve with potatoes, corn, and aji sauce.