The Heart of the Grill: An Anticuchos Recipe

For this recipe you will need:

  • 1 Beef Heart (ask a butcher to clean up the fat and ventricles prior to purchase)
  • Fresh Cilantro, 2 bunches
  • Half an onion
  • Two limes
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt (Sea, Maldon, Kosher)


Step 1:

Set that big heart aside in the fridge while you prep your veg.

Step 2: Veg prep

Finely chop the cilantro Add to a small mixing bowl. Finely dice one half of an onion. Throw in in there with the cilantro. Juice two limes into the mixing bowl, and add the zest of one lime. Add the zest of a lemon.

When you are done you should have a colourful and aromatic melange that looks like this:  

Step 3: Slicing the Heart

This process kind of speaks for itself, so here’s a couple nice shots of my Misono UX10 Slicer knife doing what it does best.  

This is also a step that you can ask your butcher to prepare for you upfront. Butchers are a kindly folk who happily take to such requests. For those of you who are more adventurous and are willing to take the challenge on yourself, be sure to use the sharpest knife you have and pull through the heart in long, single strokes to get nice even slices.

Step 4:

Throw the contents of your small mixing bowl and the heart slices all together into a larger mixing bowl and let the juices and aromas marinate the meat.

You can let this occur for 2 hours, but in my case I had forgotten to bring home skewers, so I left the whole thing to sit in the fridge for 9 hours while I went to work and came home with the skewers. For the purposes of this article, let us imagine that we have just finished all the above prep work for the meat, and are now letting it sit in the fridge to soak. Wouldn’t now be a fine opportunity to go over some historical tidbits and nutritional facts about Antecuchos? I agree. It would be.

 Two fun facts, and one digression.

1.     Antecuchos are “made for the flame.” As far back a 16th-century Spanish tradition in the Andes, antecuchos were prepared with meat and flame.

2.     When it comes to calories and protein, beef heart is about equal to white-meat chicken. A 3-ounce serving of beef heart has just 95 calories and 15 grams of protein. 

3.     I was unsure of the appeal of submitting this recipe, a cow heart dish is not for the squeamish. Recently, I’ve begun a weekly dining tradition with an esteemed friend, Jeffrey Roel. He was very pleased with the flavours and the niceties of the dish, and if there is anyone’s opinion on food that I trust, it is my buddy Jeff’s. Also the man trusted me to feed him cow’s heart that I had only just learned to prepare, and so it is for that reason that I would like to dedicate this article to his fine palette and bravery.

Step 5:

Let us assume that roughly 2 or 9 hours have passed. The flavour profile of the herbs, onion, and citrons have steeped into the meat, and you have skewers in your possession. The next step involves folding the long thin slices of meat over the skewers in a waving pattern. See Photo 7 below for reference. Add touches of salt to your personal tastes.

Step 6:

Grilling the skewers over fire! Unfortunately I had to make do with a skillet at high heat for a few minutes on either side, then finishing in the over at 350 degrees to finish. I moistened the pan with a touch of cooking oil and the juice of the lemon that was used in Step 2 for zest. Smoke from a grill is a great addition to the beef heart flavour. Some other recipes call for chipotle or adobo sauce to be used in Step 4, but I find they completely cover the rich offal flavour. That said, I am an offal fan through-and-through, and understand that the iron-dense flavour of organs is not for everyone.

Grilling and barbeque season is upon us as the summer draws in. This dish is guaranteed to surprise your friends and add a great variety to side dishes often found at barbeques, such as coleslaw and potato salad with dill. Who knows? You may even surprise yourself.