For the lovers of offal, here is the ultimate Guatemalan recipe. It is called revolcado. This dish, like Guatemalan gastronomy, is the culmination of a culinary fusion between indigenous and Spanish cultures that dates back to the sixteenth century and which consolidated considerably during the colonial era.
During these times, conquistadors and missionaries introduced many products and culinary methods from the European and Arab worlds. According to the historian Miguel Álvarez Arévalo, it was the Spaniards who brought the use of the pig’s head to indigenous cooking. A piece that was quickly adopted and prepared with popular local fruits, tomatoes and sweet peppers.
It was the same conquistadors who brought the revolcado back to their native lands and particularly to the Extremadura region to make it a popular local specialty. The dish can also be found in Peru, the northwest of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Nicaragua.
Its name may vary from one place to another but it is most commonly known as chanfaina. Depending on the country, it uses pig or lamb, but rice is always the accompaniment.
The idea of using the head, liver and heart of the pig probably has two origins and meanings.
First an economic aspect, as very quickly, people understood the benefit of using all the parts of the animal to make the breeding profitable, especially with the investment in time and the associated costs.
Then religious considerations. At the time of great transhumance, the shepherds used to sacrifice the lambs to the gods before offering and consuming the noble parts and entrails. This practice continued in the countryside and spread to farm animals such as pigs. Thus, at the time of the slaughter of pigs, which almost always happen in the wintertime to facilitate the conservation of different cuts under more suitable temperatures, it was not uncommon to prepare the tripe immediately and to have thoughts for missing friends or upcoming events.
These peasant and religious practices still remain here and there around the world, although the appreciation for tripe is disappearing in the Western World. These substantial and nutritious pieces are almost always discarded and not offered to the general public. Specialty tripe makers are closing shop and conventional butchers refuse to offer and present them. The younger generations do not know how to prepare them and slowly but surely, offals are used in new segments of the industry such as the transformation into animal meal to feed new animals. However, in Africa, Asia and South America, tripe is still widely consumed and in Guatemala, revolcado is a popular dish.
This stew is simmered early in the morning so it can be tasted at lunchtime by the whole family. People usually add annatto seeds (roucou). These seeds that have an intense red color and are rich in carotenoids and vitamin A, are from a small shrub native to the Amazon forest. The seeds of this shrub bring an intense color but also an interesting taste that is slightly sweet and earthy. The hue obtained from the annatto seeds would be at the origin of the lipstick. As the first navigators appreciated the painted lips of the Indian women, they brought this vermilion paste back for their wives.
Cumin is also used to flavor the stew. This seed is particularly appreciated in Guatemalan cuisine, and it brings a great flavor to pig meat and more generally to offal such as liver and heart.
After a long simmer, you will obtain a very red ragout, particularly fragrant where the flavors perfectly complement each other. The bell pepper brings a sweet note that is well balanced by the spices and the slightly mineral taste of pork offal. A clever and delicious combination that is usually tasted with a generous portion of rice that will absorb some of the unctuous sauce. The larger quantity of garlic also brings a great freshness to the revolcado.
We are great offal lovers and we therefore had to make this stew. In France, we are used to eating pork offal in the form of charcuterie (sausages, andouille, patés and terrines) but offals are just as good when they are cooked like in this stew. They seem less fat and this method of cooking brings a different texture that is quite pleasant to the palate. That said, it is not a dish for the faint of heart and although delicious, it will not please everyone.
- 1 pig's head , cut in 2 by your butcher
- 1 lb pork liver
- 4 pork hearts
- 5 tablespoons corn oil
- 1½ lb tomatoes
- 10 oz. tomatillos
- 3 chili peppers from Guatemala
- 1 large onion , cut into 4
- 7 cloves garlic
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3 corn tortillas
- 1 tablespoon annatto seeds (roucou seeds)
- ½ cup boiling water
- Infuse the annatto seeds in the boiling water for 24 hours.
- Place the pig's head in a pot. Cover generously with water and salt.
- Cover and cook over medium heat for 2 hours and 30 minutes or until the ears and skin are tender.
- Regularly skim and add boiling water in case of evaporation.
- Drain and remove all the meat from the head and tongue and cut into small pieces.
- Cut out the ears and all the skin in the same way.
- Cook the pork hearts in a large volume of salted water for 15 minutes. Drain and cut into small pieces.
- Then cook the liver for 20 minutes in a large volume of salted water.
- Once cooked, drain and cut half of the liver into pieces and reserve the other half, which will be used to thicken the dish.
- Dip the corn tortillas in a little water. Set aside.
- On a griddle or in the oven, dry roast the tomatoes, hot peppers, tomatoes and bell pepper.
- Also roast the onion and unpeeled garlic cloves.
- Remove blistered skin from tomatoes, tomatillos, hot peppers, bell peppers, and garlic cloves.
- Pour everything into a blender as well as the onion and cumin and mix until obtaining a smooth texture.
- Filter this mixture. The recado is ready.
- Squeeze the corn tortillas.
- In a blender, pour the annatto seeds infusion (without the seeds), add the other half of the liver and mix well.
- In a large pot, heat corn oil over medium heat.
- Sauté the tortillas for a minute.
- Add the liver mixture, stir well and cook on low heat for 1 minute.
- Add the recado and mix well.
- Add all the meat previously cut into small pieces. Add salt, pepper and stir well.
- Cover and cook on low-medium heat for 20 minutes.
- Serve with white rice.