My Mom usually had command of the kitchen. But when it came time to grill outdoors, it was 100% Dad.
Growing up, our brick-walled patio featured a corner grill – something I’m pretty sure was considered a little ahead of its time in the 1960s, when our house was rebuilt. Dad always cooked on charcoal.
When I chose this recipe I realized that I’ve always been a propane gas griller (translation: I’m conveniently lazy). Yet when I saw some of the keywords in Mom’s recipe “hot coals,” “bacon drippings,” “flavor” and “smoke,” I knew what I had to do; I zipped up the street to my local Walmart and purchased a tiny grill for just $15 to ensure that I was preparing the anticuchos the way in which they were intended – with some TLC or “Tender Lovin’ Charcoal!”
Oh yeah, the name.
“Anticuchos” is a bit of a tongue twister, but if you’re a San Antonio native like I am you likely know anticuchos from the annual NIOSA festival where in just 4 nights more than 18,000 anticuchos are sold to festival goers who salivate for this sensationally savory shish kabob dish. You can read more about NIOSA at my Sauerkrat Bend’s Potato Salad Recipe here.
Anticuchos are a uniquely Peruivan dish typically made of beef hearts and grill-basted with a fiery marinade of vinegar and a peppery paste. More modern versions of the dish have expanded to be made from chicken, beef liver and my favorite – beef tenderloin, like Mom’s recipe here.
foodie tips ~
❤ This dish is easy to make but it does require letting the beef marinate overnight … so give yourself some prep-ahead-time. Your tastebuds will thank you later.
❤ You can make anticuchos with just the meat or alternate the skewers with meat, bell peppers and new potatoes – this is how my family made them at home. I remember my Mom and Dad using green bell peppers but adding red, yellow and green only makes the dish more colorful.
❤ Two gifts in one! You only use the bacon drippings (not the bacon) so you can enjoy a bacon snack while you’re outside grilling or save the bacon for another recipe. Hint: nobody saves bacon, so better eat it up before I beat you to it!
❤ Love living life in the spicy lane? My Cousin Julie says she enjoys her anticuchos marinated with Pickapeppa Hot Pepper Sauce.
for the marinade:
1 cup | red wine vinegar
3 cups | water
2-3 | fresh, whole serrano peppers, ends snipped off
to taste | salt
to taste | whole peppercorns
2-3 cloves | garlic
generous pinch | oregano
generous pinch | cumin
2 pounds | cubed beef
5 slices bacon | reserve the bacon drippings
1 | bell pepper, cut into chunks (optional)
8-12 | new potatoes (optional)
8-12 | wooden skewers, soaked in water about 30 minutes before preparation
1 | charcoal grill that’s fired-up and ready to go
1. Combine the first 8 ingredients for the marinade in a blender and blend thoroughly. I couldn’t get my peppercorns to crack (probably because I have a lower-end blender) but they will add some flavor to the marinade nonetheless.
2. Place the cubed beef in a glass dish and cover with the marinade. Marinate several hours or overnight (overnight highly suggested)!
3. Spear the marinated cubed beef with the prepared skewers – and if adding the optional peppers and new potatoes (which is what I did) – alternate the ingredients on the skewers. Continue skewer-ing until you’re all out of ingredients.
4. Add the bacon drippings (to taste) to the remaining marinade then baste the meat while cooking over hot coals until you’re ready to remove them and enjoy.
The bacon drippings add flavor and make the meat smoke. Delicious!
Yield: 8-12 skewers of tasty meat and veggies!
Here’s a scan of the original recipe as penned by my Mom, Betty!
I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
A little more about this dish:
My AWARD–WINNING chili recipe will set your guests ablaze with compliments to you, the chef.
This chili will probably also set your tummy on fire, because if there’s a way to add spice to a dish, I’ll sneak more in when nobody’s looking.
Don’t listen to what “the others” say: THE BEST CHILI ON THE PLANET HAS BEANS. BEANS, I SAY! I was born and raised in San Antonio, which has been credited as the birthplace of chili. So when I say “Beans,” you say “Chili!”
You: “Huh?” :~)
In 2005, the company I was working for had a chili cook-off. My pot won the gold. Then two more awards again in 2014. Spoons and bowls above the rest. Try one bowl and you’ll see.
PS ~ Did you catch this is an award-winning recipe?
Foodie Tips ~
♥ Mmmmm… Beer! Mom always preferred Pearl Light beer. She’d salt a lemon ~ sometimes a lime ~ and drop it on in. I usually use Miller Lite when I’m cooking at home. Read more about beer and how to make beer bread here!
♥ This is a great dish that’s served well with saltines, fritos or my jalapeño and cheese cornbread.
♥ Chili Lover? Check out this second chili recipe here at Betty’s Cook Nook. It’s a sweeter bowl of red that calls for no beans. Gasp!
2 tablespoons | falfurrias brand butter
2 medium | white onions, chopped
2 cloves | garlic, finely chopped
2 pounds | chili ground beef (not ground beef)
2 tablespoons | ground cumin
1 tablespoon | oregano leaves
1 tablespoon | salt
2+ tablespoons | medium or coarse fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon | sugar
1 can | stewed tomatoes
1 can | rotel
2 cans | “chili fixins” by rotel
1 can | tomato soup
1 can | beer
2 cans | ranch-style (or pinto) beans
to taste | fresh jalapeños
ii. what to do
1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cook 5 minutes, stirring often.
2. Add ground beef and cook until well done. Add the next 5 ingredients and cook 4 minutes.
3. Add the next 5 ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add in the beans and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until thick.
4. Side ingredients can include: crackers, corn chips, white tortilla chips, cheese (sharp cheddar/pepper jack works good), fresh jalapeños and sour cream.
5. Eat it up.
This special recipe is dedicated to our dear family friend Bristol ~
thanks to her, mom’s recipes live on; the greatest treat I’ve ever received.
~ ♥ ~
My mom’s great friend “Bristol” said “calabacita” was one of mom’s absolute favorite recipes because she loved its spicy taste. Now I know where I get my love of spicy food!
I didn’t even know how to spell calaba-HUH?, but thanks to Google, I do now. Calabacita means “little squash” in Spanish and is often made of a variety of summer squashes with thin, edible skins, including zucchini, yellow crookneck, Mexican straight-neck and sunburst squashes (per the research I did online). We’ll see what mom used!
I remember something squashy as a kid, but not sure of the name. I think mom “dumbed” the name calabacita down to “squash” for me since my tiny tongue was too young to pronounce “ca-la-ba-ci-ta.” Although I do remember the young ability to say “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!”
5/14/11 UPDATE ~ I received mom’s cookbook this very week and scoured both the cookbook and the little recipe card file… and no calabacita recipe! All I can figure is that mom probably had the recipe in her head and didn’t need to write it down. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t share it with her friends! I’m on the hunt for the recipe, so in the meantime, enjoy the recipe below from the other Betty (Crocker)… the ingredients look similar to what I remember eating… except I don’t remember mom using chicken… but she did use both yellow crookneck squash and green zucchini.
1 tablespoon | extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 lb | uncooked chicken breast tenders (not breaded)
8 to 10 small to medium | zucchini (2 1/2 lb), peeled, thinly sliced (8 cups)
1 medium | white onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 can (15.25 oz) | Green Giant® whole kernel corn, undrained
1 can (14.5 oz) | diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion, undrained
1 can (4.5 oz) | Old El Paso® chopped green chiles, undrained
1-1/2 teaspoons | garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon | ground cumin
to taste | salt and pepper, if desired
1/2 cup | chopped fresh cilantro
ii. what to do
1. In 5- to 6-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken; cover and cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink in the center.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients except cilantro. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender.
♥ While I don’t remember mom serving calabacita over white rice, consider it (from me to you).
♥ Making instant rice? Why not substitute water with chicken or beef broth?