Beef heart is among the least challenging of organ meats—gateway offal for anyone considering first explorations of the fifth quarter. There's no livery funk, there are no uncomfortable textural issues. It just tastes like the most tender, juicy, beefy steak imaginable. It is a muscle, after all.
Peruvians love their beef heart, serving marinated and grilled anticuchos de corazon on the streets and in the restaurants.
Ecuadorans must love it too. During yesterday's Ecuadoran parade on Montrose Avenue, a nice old couple set up a grill in front of the tiny Peruvian chicken shack Fina Estampa and began firing skewers threaded with juicy cumin-and-garlic marinated anticuchos. The crowd went wild. Well, I did anyway, salivating as the Señora painted the meat with a bundle of corn husks dipped in oil, and flipped them rapidly like she does it every day, though oddly Fina Estampa doesn't have anticuchos on its regular menu. They served these on Styrofoam plates with puddles of sharp, tangy salsa verde and a couple chunks of boiled potato. Three for five bucks.
You can find anticuchos on the menu at other fine Peruvian restaurants such as Rosa de Lima and D'Candela, which also happens to make the scientifically documented and fully accredited best pollo a la brasa in Chicago. Otherwise, Mado does delicious and wildly popular things with grilled beef heart.
But for a change, there's something satisfying about approaching someone on the street and declaring "I'll have your heart on a stick," with no malice intended.