Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cuban Picadillo

Picadillo, a savory blend of ground beef, raisins, olives and tomato sauce, is the only Cuban dish that my boyfriend José has made since we started going out some time ago. That being said, it is delicious, so I'm not really complaining. Still, I can't wait until he starts making ropa vieja, tostones, flan and pastelitos as well. Maybe some day his mother will teach him all her culinary secrets. Until then, picadillo will have to do. Note: Cuban food is NOT spicy at all, so this is the perfect Caribbean dish to make for less adventurous friends or relatives. We will be bringing it to Thanksgiving dinner with my Pennsylvania German relations for this very reason.

Cuban Picadillo

Serves about 6, approximately 345 calories per serving, without the traditional white rice.

1 and 1/2 lb organic lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
6 oz. of pitted Spanish olives with the pimiento stuffing in the center
4 oz (half a cup) of raisins
2-3 bay leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
8 0z (1 cup) of a plain tomato sauce
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbsp cider vinegar (not traditional, but adds a nice flavour)
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Some people add 1/4 cup of capers to their picadillo, which you may do if you like. José and his mother make it without.


1. Heat the olive oil on medium high heat in a large pan or pot. Brown the ground beef. Add the onion, green pepper and garlic and continue cooking until the meat is well browned.

2. Once the beef is browned, add the olives, raisins, bay leaf, tomato sauce, wine, cumin, salt, pepper and vinegar and capers if you are using them.

3. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly, so the flavours have time to meld. This is traditionally served over white rice, with tostones or fried plantains.


James said...

sorry kiddo, this is more spanish than cuban.

I know because I live with cubans in Miami. My wife is cuban and her father cooks picadillo at least once a week.

For real cuban picadillo, no raisins.
Also, quadruple the garlic. And the kicker? Sazón con Azafrán.

white wine has to be spanish white wine or vino seco.

the vinegar is not necessary.

mitzi said...

my husband is cubano and we're in miami. his mom is picadillo queen and she uses raisins...just depends on your taste. using them doesn't mean it's not "cuban picadillo"

Lyra said...

Hi James and Mitzi, I didnt see your comments until now. This recipe is actually from my boyfriend's mother. Both his parents were born in Cuba and grew up in Miami and this is the version that he grew up with. Of course, you are exactly right James, olives and raisins are not native to the Americas and Cuban cooking has been heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine. As for the garlic, I do tend to put more in then this recipe calls for. Like all home cooks, my boyfriend's mother customized the recipe to her taste. Thanks to both of you for dropping by!

Nathan said...

Well to James talking about "authentic" Picadillo there would diffenitly not be any "Goya Sazon con Azafran" what do you use the pre-packaged Sofrito puree? that is rediculous Cuban cooking needs none of that pre-made seasoning stuff. Unless your in a hurry and it's for convenience.

About the wine having to be Spanish? NOPE Cubans rich and poor here would be fine with GOYA cooking wine for Cuban cooking LOL.

Mitzi I guess Cuban cooking varies from household to household.

Raisins in Picadillo is not something I was raised with. Some Cubans here in Cali when I mentioned the raisins in the Picadillo where like "Pero que coño es eso!" and the lady who said that was born in and raised in Havana, Cuba in 1963.

My grandma tells me some Cubans use raisins but some just don't. (Even though she is Madrileña she lived in Cuba many years and married a Gallego hijo de Español born in Cuba)

When I make Picadillo I will blog the recipe and show you guys how it's done in my household.


It's a simple "Picadillo con Papas Fritas"


Cuban cooking varies widely from region to region people from ORIENTE cook many things Western Cuabns from Havana don't cook.

But Cuban cooking from Cuba nowadays is destroyed thanks to the communist dictatorship.

The best Cuban food is not found in Cuba anymore it can be found in Cuban households OUTSIDE OF CUBA and in Southern Florida.

Nathan said...

Hello Lyra, it's me again I made some Cuban Picadillo today, go check it out so you can see how we do it at my house,

P.S. the recipe you used was cuban, like I said it varies household to household but it still maintains many common elements.

Lyra said...

Hi Nathan, I am going to go check out your version now. Yeah, I am not Cuban so I make no claims for authenticity, but this recipe is from a Cuban family. My observation is that there are usually as many versions of these things as there are people making them. Whatever works and tastes good is my attitude.

Nathan said...

Well your Picadillo is Cuban to it's just a different style than mine, but Im sure it's good, I have never made a Picadillo with bay leaves, white wine, raisins and vinegar.

So I will try this Cuban version of Picadillo Im sure it will be sweet and sour like savory and sweet or something.

It sounds good though :)

Dylan Knapp said...

Hey, thanks for posting our humble "Cuban Hamburger Helper" as we used to call it in my house in Tampa. There's really no right or wrong way to make picadillo! I prefer with raisins myself, and I usually soak them in brown sugar and cream sherry first. I also use a mix of ground pork, beef, and turkey -- depending on what's on sale!

Try stuffing a turkey with it!

I hope you get some Ropa Vieja soon, that's like the national dish of Cuba.