1.29 – The heart of Peru

Last weekend I impulse-bought a beautiful pig’s heart from Heritage Meat, and immediately thought of my past trip to Peru. I’ve made anticuchos a few times with stew beef before, but am psyched to actually have a heart to work with for a change.

I also have some beautiful curtains my mom made for the new place, and apparently no ability to use a drill – so by way of a bribe, I decided to throw a small dinner party/curtain-hanging this sunday. Dinner for drapes…

Olives, sun-dried tomatoes, gouda cheese = curtain-hanging energy
Chicken Soup (because we had soup with every meal in Peru – they love it?)
“Cuy-ish” Chicken with Salsa Creole
Baby kale salad with feta (this is not Peruvian…)

*Important Note:
My Peruvian cookbook, bought in Lima, is the world’s worst translation of traditional recipes with little to no detail. This is my guess based on the ingredients I could understand.

1 pig or beef heart (maybe buy two pig hearts, I wish I had more)
2 cups red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp red pepper flakes (or minced fresh hot pepper of your choice)
1 bay leaf
Salt & Pepper to taste

First clean the heart. I did this by rinsing it, cutting it open vertically, and trimming off any silver-skin and/or sinew I saw.  I left the outside fat in tact. The heart came out very tender, so this seemed to do the trick.

Once clean, slice heart into bite-sized chunks (like stew beef, which apparently is the Quechua translation of “Anticuchos” anyhow).

Make marinade by combining all other ingredients in a large bowl or zip-loc bag. Place heart chunks in marinade and refrigerate for 12 hours (I went 24…it was fine).

To cook, place marinated heart on skewers and grill over high heat for about a minute on each side. These should be served rare-medium rare to stay tender (plus the heart is already chemically cooked by the vinegar anyhow.) Because I am still getting use to the new kitchen’s ventilation issues, I decided to brown and finish in the oven. Not as good as a barbecue, but pretty tasty anyhow.

Cuy-ish Chicken
Cuy is a traditional and everyday dish of grilled or fried Guinea pig. Apologies to anyone who has had Guinea pigs as pets, but they really are quiet tasty. That said, I don’t have the heart, or the equipment to buy and prepare live ones here in NYC…so I decided to make something a little more accessible.

My hope was to use quail, or small Cornish game hens, as they would look like small vermin, but sadly the only option left on a Sunday afternoon was whole chickens…so I cut one up into to Cuy-sized chunks and followed the Cuy recipe as printed.

Small Animals of your choosing
Garlic, Salt & Pepper to taste
3 tbsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp hot paprika

In a large bowl make a brine of salt, sugar, paprika and about 2 cups warm tap water. Stir till dissolved, and add a few ice cubes to bring the temperature down. Butcher your chicken into large pieces, or skin your Cuy. Place meat in brine and leave in fridge for a few hour.

When ready to cook, remove meat from brine and pat dry with paper towel. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic. Heat a 1/4 inch of olive oil in a cast iron skillet and fry meat until brown. If you’re using Cuy, fry it through…chicken you can finish in the oven (about 15-20 minutes on 350) if you are afraid of your ventilation like me.

Serve warm with Salsa Creole

Salsa Creole
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 hot peppers (Serrano or jalapeno)
1/4 cup cilantro (I used parsley this time)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients and let marinate at least 45 minutes before serving.

I had three heart skewers left-over last night. I put two in a box over the remaining kale salad and went to bed dreaming of the delicious lunch I would have today…someone seems to have stolen my lunch for herself this morning.
I consider this a huge success!



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