Food

Guts & Glory: Experimental Cooking

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Many people would not choose to eat the innards of an animal, thinking that it’s gross, etc, but I love it. It has such a different texture and taste from the meat of a pig, chicken, duck or cow. Sadly, it is not something that I indulge in often as it is not the healthiest thing on earth. Over a weekend, I watched Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown – Peru, and one streetfood, Anticuchos, caused me to almost salivate. It is a dish made out of cow heart and marinated in garlic, cumin, onion and vinegar and then grilled on a fire.

For my version of Anticuchos, I used pork belly, chicken hearts, chicken livers, duck gizzards, and a pig tongue, basically any innards that I could get my hands on in the supermarket. Imagine a girl stalking the meat section of the supermarket and throwing the seemingly least appealing bits of the animal into her basket, yeah, that was me.

Back home, I started to prepare the pig tongue and oh boy, that got me feeling a little queasy. I think it was the obviousness that it was a tongue that got to me. To prepare, I boiled it in a pot of salted water, after a while, I took it out and removed the outer layer. Then I cut it into bite-sized pieces, same with the gizzards and other parts.

The trick with Anticuchos is that the vinegar is used to soften the cow heart, which is quite tough, so the Peruvians usually marinate these overnight. I made two types of marinade, one with vinegar and one without. Reason being that livers are tough and horrible when overcooked and the vinegar would cook the livers. So I put enough vinegar to cover the pig tongue and gizzards in the first marinade of garlic, cumin and cayenne pepper (because I like it spicy). The amounts you put in really depends on what you like, I like the taste of cumin, garlic and cayenne, so I put in loads of that. The base of the second marinade was the same, I just replaced the vinegar with olive oil.

Four hours later, I heated up my frying pan, heated up the oil and over a big fire, dropped the tongue and gizzards in to cook for about 20 minutes, then as it’s about to be done, I threw in the the other parts that cook faster.

I prepared cous cous to go with this; a simple recipe of salted butter, pepper and coriander.

The end result was a vinegary, spicy dish that hit the spot. Best eaten with a beer or two.

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