If you’ve always been a bit too timid to order your asado with achuras, but are theoretically interested in the idea, read on. Vegetarians, avert your eyes.
Achuras are the offal and “funky bits” offered alongside your favorite cuts of meat at most parrillas. They include (but are not limited to):
- Mollejas: sweetbreads (organ meat from the thymus gland and sometimes the pancreas)
- Riñones: kidneys
- Hígado: liver
- Chinchulines: chitterlings (small intestine)
- Tripa gorda: large intestine
- Seso: brain
- Corazón: heart
- Ubre: udder
I asked self-proclaimed Achuras connoisseur, Enrique Castignani, to pass along some pearls of wisdom to help you begin your journey towards funky cut nirvana.
Best place to start if you’re squeamish about trying them for the first time:
Start with mollejas. Let’s face it, if this is your first experience, starting with something that tastes similar to the cuts you’re used to will help you ease into the experience. After you’ve tried the heaven that is a crisp molleja, you should move onto chinchulines. Seso is also surprisingly tender and buttery when done right. Perhaps leave hígado, ubre, and corazón for last since they taste a bit stronger and are definitely not for everyone.
What to order if you’re feeling more adventurous:
Corazón. If it’s available and you trust the person manning the grill, it can be really delicious.
Rules for ordering them at a parrilla:
Golden rule – they need to be cooked a punto. Overcooked achuras will likely have the texture of shoe leather. Also don’t forget the lemon. Most are very fatty, and the acid will cut the greasiness nicely. Finally, if you want to give them a fair shot, don’t order the full parrillada. Order specific cuts so that they get a chance to shine.
Other etiquette to follow:
Achuras should always be the first meat you eat. Order them up front and make sure you have something light alongside to cleanse your palate, like a tomato salad. A strong, tannic red wine will have a similar effect.
Molleja or tripa rellena (stuffed) with blue cheese.
Last Supper Menu:
Provoleta, arugula and parmesan salad, french fries, chorizo, morcilla, molleja, chinchulín, riñón, tripa rellena, bife de chorizo, and don’t forget the flan de dulce de leche con crema for dessert. In that order.
So now you know. Be adventurous and make sure you’re not missing out on some of the best kept secrets of the asado.