Lunch Today: Veal Heart Anticuchos at Morocho
As a kid growing up in suburban Connecticut, many of my first culinary experiences came form chain restaurants. First burger: probably Friendly's. First ribs: (unfortunately) Chili's. And today, I had another first culinary experience, one which is about as far away as possible from the fast casual eats of my youth. The ingredient was veal heart, the preparation was a mini kebab, and it was really quite good.
The Anticuchos ($6), meat skewers on a bed of Peruvian corn and lettuce at Morocho are filling but not too heavy, a perfect summertime lunch. Though I had never tried beef heart before today, my coworkers warned me that chefs tend to overcook the meat so that it becomes dry and rubbery. Lucky for me, kebab-meister Miguel knows his way around a beef heart. The nuggets were cooked perfectly, just medium-rare with a light crust and plenty of juice. Reminding me of filet mignon, the heart was tender with a slight offal aftertaste, at a much more reasonable price than restaurant filet.
The anticuchera sauce that coats the beef makes itself known with a hit of soy, aji panca, and dried oregano. Additionally, a thin, creamy huacatay sauce, loaded with herbs, is drizzled on top of everything, lending a fresh flavor to the cooked ingredients. These two sauces seep into the large kernels of choclo (Peruvian corn) that coat the bottom of the container, and they need it—I could imagine them being delicious when fresh and bright, but here they were a bit starchy, wan, and weak in flavor. Two halves of blue potato also adorn the dish, but they're underseasoned and pretty unmemorable.
Still, if only for the delicious veal heart, this is a great lunch for when you're feeling adventurous, but not too adventurous.