Every Cuban home serves Picadillo. It's quick and easy to make. I don't typically order Picadillo at Cuban restaurants because even the best ones don't get it right. So if you aren't making it at home, you aren't going to get a good one.
Everyone has their own recipe, which may be why I find the one from the restaurants a bit off. It's not like our own. My recipe is my wife's who got it from her mom and made her own minor adjustments. We use ground beef. Some recipes call for a mix of ground beef, ground pork and ground ham. My father-in-law likes to add clove. That's not my favorite.
One ingredient in particular is polarizing and divisive. No two Cubans agree. Ask a group of Cuban's if you should add raisins to Picadillo and, "Oh, boy!" Everyone's got an opinion and it's an opinion with conviction. My opinion: Raisins in Picadillo suck. You won't find them in my recipe...spit on the ground for emphasis.
This recipe is a healthy one. I use 95% lean ground beef and it's definitely a family favorite. My daughter, who prepared this dish with me and makes is as well as mom and grandma, helped me cooked up last night's batch so we could get pictures and videos for this article. The family was extremely happy we were having this for dinner.
Picadillo goes well with any medium or full bodied red. You don't have to splurge on an expensive Napa Cab, but that would pair nicely. I recommend a bottle that speaks Spanish like the dish. A Spanish Tempranillo, Argentinian Malbec or Chilean Carménère would go well. (I can just hear each item talking across the table with each other. Each would have their distinct Spanish accents, but they would all understand each other.
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- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 lb of 95% lean ground beef
- 1 onion
- 1 red, yellow or orange pepper. Green will work too, but I prefer the taste of the others.
- 4 or 5 garlic cloves
- 1 cup of green olives. I use the Spanish Manzanilla olives.
- 1 cup of canned crushed tomatoes. I use San Marzano and hand crush them. It's sloppy, but they taste so good.
- 1/4 cup a white cooking wine
- 1/4 tbsp of black pepper
- (Optional) 4 medium potatoes peeled a cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
- Salt to taste
- Use a food processor to chop the onion, pepper and garlic cloves. You want to turn them into a creamy mix. Smart mom's do this so little kids don't complain about all the little thingies in their food. It also blends the flavor well into the sauce.
- Add the olive oil and food processor mix into a large skillet and cook over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes until the liquid gets consumed. Your kitchen should small marvelous.
- Add the meat to the mix and cook over medium heat another 5 minutes stirring to make sure it gets cooked evenly.
- Add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook over the same medium heat for about 20 minutes. You can't screw this up.
- This step is optional and a little more work. Fry the potatoes in very hot corn or vegetable oil until golden brown. Set aside.
- Serve the Picadillo over white rice and top it off with a handful of the fried potatoes. See video show how best to serve it.
Prepare up a batch for yourself and let us know what how it went.