Anticuchos, Peruvian Grilled Deer Heart
September 07, 2020 | Updated February 23, 2021
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Anticuchos peruanos is a common street snack in Peru, and you will most often see it as anticuchos de corazon, grilled heart skewers.
Normally you will see this done with beef heart, but I primarily use deer heart, although lamb, elk, moose, pork, etc. are all fine, and, oddly, all similar tasting. Oh, and it doesn’t need to be hearts. Any tender meat will do.
Anticuchos, pronounced something like “ahn-tea-KOO-choss,” is an ancient dish, dating back before European contact with the Inca in the early 1500s. Originally done with llama or whitetail deer (yes, there are whitetails in the Andes), anticuchos de corazon are basically marinated kebabs done with heart.
(Looking for another deer heart recipe? Try my grilled deer heart with sweet peppers.)
The main ingredient of the marinade is a Peruvian chile paste called ají panca. You can find it in good Latin markets or online, and I really like the premade Aji Panca Paste.
That said, Mexican chipotles in adobo are way easier to find and are similar, if a little hotter. Bottom line is you want a thick puree of mildly hot chiles—don’t blow your head off with heat here. You can get close with some chipotles in adobo buzzed in a blender with a few preserved red bell peppers. Another option is to use Mexican pasilla chiles or anchos.
Normally, anticuchos peruanos are just a snack or appetizer, not a main meal. But if you have lots of deer hearts, go for it. And yes, you can make these with other parts of the deer or beef or whatever. The same marinade works with all varieties of meat, and even fish or shellfish like shrimp or lobster.
I’m a big fan of letting these sit in the fridge overnight to marinate, but you can get away with as little as an hour if you have to.
You should always cook these skewers over charcoal or other open flame, and they are traditionally served with potatoes (also native to the Andes), corn, and hot sauce.
Preparing the heart is easy – you can see details here.
Unless you are using hearts from young animals like lamb, you will want to tenderize the meat before putting it on skewers. Mostly I do this with a jaccard, which is a nifty handheld device with a handle and lots of sharp, pointy blades. You put the meat on the cutting board and bounce the jaccard all over the meat, making hundreds of little cuts in it. Works very well with any tough piece of meat, hearts especially. A jaccard is cheap, too, costing about $20 in any good supermarket or online.
Your other option is to score the heart meat with many thinly spaced, crosshatched cuts from a knife. I don’t love this method for anticuchos, but it will work in a pinch. You can also pound the heart into flat cutlets and thread them on the skewers.
(For another great Peruvian recipe, try my recipe for ceviche de pato, citrusy braised duck or goose legs.)
Anticuchos de Corazon, Grilled Heart Skewers
- 6 dried aji panca chiles (See above for substitutes)
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon achiote paste (optional)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 pound hearts (or other meat), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- Pour boiling water over the dried chiles and cover. Let this sit for 20 minutes to soften.
- Mix all the marinade ingredients together and buzz them into a puree in a food processor or blender. Submerge the heart pieces in the marinade for at least 1 hour, and up to a day.
- Thread the heart pieces on the skewers—this helps you flip them more easily and helps them cook more evenly. Grill over very high heat with the grill cover open until you get a nice char on the outside, about 3 minutes per side. Baste with the marinade as the skewers cook.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
I bought several lamb hearts from Third Way Farm in Havre de Grace, MD and wanted to re-create the anticuchos I’ve had twice at Puerto 511, a Baltimore Peruvian restaurant. I source lamb organ meats from two local Maryland farms and both farmers tell me most of the organ meats they sell end up as dog food! What a waste of nutrient dense food. Your recipe pays homage to this organ meat few Americans will eat. Most important is your recipe is easy and delicious! Thanks for all you do to introduce responsible ways to eat in the nose-to-tail approach.
My partner was in the Peace Corps in Peru and often talked about how much he loved Anticuchos. We used your recipe and it was fabulous. We used smoked chipolte pepper in the marinade and that provided a little pique. Served with new potatoes and fresh corn. So good.
Hello Hank! I’m anxious to try this recipe. My husband is originally from Peru and he loves it. His mother made it years ago and it was delicious! Anyway, if I want to marinate say 3 beef hearts, do I use the same amount of ingredients or double everything. Please advise because we plan to prepare it on the 4th of July this year. Thank you so much! Sandy Quispe from Lafayette Louisiana
I used this marinade yesterday to make stewed gizzards, and they turned out delicious! Good texture, not tough at all. I served them with a side of polenta au gratin and everyone devoured the dish. The combination of flavours from the marinade was perfectly balanced and super yummy. Next time my people go hunting, I will ask them to save me some deer hearts. Btw I got jars of aji panca paste online. I also added a teaspoon of aji Amarillo paste to the marinade for a tiny little kick. Thanks for the great recipe.
Flawless recipe. I used a beef heart because I have no game hearts at the moment, and I used 6 New Mexico chilies, and a few chipotles in adobo because that was what I had access to at the time. Followed everything else to the letter. Phenomenal preparation for hearts or any tender cut you can cut into 2” pieces and tenderize. It’s classic exotic meat on a stick. I served with grilled Ohio sweet corn and boiled baby red skin potatoes tossed in olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper. I will make this and riff on this many many many more times. Cudos Mr. Shaw…cudos..
My favorite heart recipe, have done with whitetail, beef, and waterfowl hearts. Although this marinade is good, there is something special with the texture and earthiness of heart muscle that is greater than the sum of its parts.
My wife has never liked plainly grilled hearts, so I’ve been searching for a good recipe to use as she loves the heart texture. We tried this and she loved it! This recipe will be revisited often!
I’m from Perú and is the first time in my life that l read a recipe and it say the Anticucho is made from Deer heart, Hopefylly its just a mistake, the only and original recipe is with ” Beef heart “
Patricia: No mistake. I run a wild game website, so deer fills in for beef. That said, I know of places in Peru that make anticuchos with the hearts of llamas and alpacas, which would be similar to deer. But I agree that beef is more common.
Hank, trying this with some back yard pig hearts, would subbing out the oil with some of their lard work?
Justin: It should.
I visited home in the midst of LNU Complex fire evac just in time to save the meat in my chest freezer. Among the saved was a beef heart. When I saw your recipe I had to try it. Im so glad I did. I just finished my first resulting meal and it was, as The Galloping Gourmet used to say, “Marvelous, simply marvelous”. Now its time for a short slurp.
Looks awesome! Ever tried it with duck hearts? Think I might just save ’em up all season and give it a go
Mike: Yes, I have, once. It was pretty good.
Hank, awesome looking recipe (as usual). One heart you don’t call out here is Pronghorn. I have a Pronghorn hunt coming up, and have never had the heart, I’ve eaten lots of deer heart, but never tried pronghorn from the 4 I’ve taken previously. I can’t find any references to eating pronghorn heart, is there a reason why? too tough? I have to imagine that the jaccard would handle that, but any other thoughts?
Aaron: Just a slip. Pronghorn would work fine. As would hearts from a real goat.
Mmm…..I lived and studied in Peru and this was one of my favourite dishes after ceviche de cojinova. I’ve made it with beef liver and pork liver (not so great with pork liver) but I’ve never tried deer liver. I’ll ask my friend who goes hunting ever autumn to send me some deer liver.
Thanks for sharing.
Fried deer heart is always on the breakfast menu after a successful hunt. My hunting friends who won’t eat it always bag the heart and liver for me. If you think you don’t eat heart, liver and tongue but buy sausage…think again!
What would the recipe be if using the aji panca paste instead of the whole Chile’s?
Craig: Check the note at the bottom of the recipe. At least 1/2 cup, and up to a cup.
How about this on some of this weekends dove breast?
Justin: Go for it. It will taste aweseome!
I usually take the hearts we get from deer season and the last night of deer camp I’ll bake them but this year I’m going to set a few aside and try this recipe, sounds really good . Thank’s