Picadillo- pronounced peek-ah-dee-yo is as Cuban as meatloaf is American. My mom made this dish at least once a week when we were kids, or at least that’s how it felt at the time. The Yuca Diaries would not be complete without this recipe. It’s simple to make and one of my favorite comfort foods. You can find this dish at almost all Cuban restaurants in Miami, and it is usually served with white rice and fried sweet plantains. Some people fry an egg and throw it on top. However you eat it, there is no doubt that this dish is sure to please. I hope you find this dish as tasty as I do and add it to your collection of recipes. So here’s how you make it.
2.5 lbs of ground beef (you can use ground turkey or ground chicken if you’re not a fan of beef)
1 large onion
1 small green bell pepper
1 head of garlic
½ cup of green pimento-stuffed olives
2 bay leaves
¼ cup of dry white wine- I use dry sherry
1 tsp. of white vinegar
2 tbsp. Mojo Crillo
4 oz. of tomato puree (1/2 of the small can)
1 tbsp of ketchup
Use a deep skillet to brown the ground beef. Break up the pieces with a spatula… you don’t want large clumps of meat.
Once the meat renders its’ juices, you should drain it in a colander. Throw it back in the pan and continue to brown. Season with garlic salt. Once fully browned, put the meat back in the colander.
In the meantime, cut the green peppers and onions. I like to dice them into really small pieces.
After that, peel the head of garlic. A trick I use to peel the garlic cloves is I take a knife and set it over the clove, and then I smash it down. The skin comes right off like this. I like to run a few cloves through the garlic press, and then slice a few cloves on the bias. I like how it looks when you have a few thin slices of garlic throughout the dish.
The combination of Onions, Garlic, and Green Pepper is called sofrito in Spanish, and is the base of most Cuban foods. This is similar to mirepoix, the French name for a combination of onions, carrots and celery used in French cuisine.
If you have kids, or are serving this dish to picky eaters that don’t like little pieces of veggies in their food- which is how my brother was when we were little, you can run the onion, garlic and green pepper in the blender and then add it to the skillet.
Drizzle the skillet with olive oil and allow the veggies to cook on medium heat until they become translucent. Add the bay leaves. Once the sofrito cooks, add the meat into the skillet and combine with a spatula.
Add the tomato sauce, vinegar, mojo criollo, and the wine.
Mojo is a marinade that can be found in the ethnic aisle of your supermarket. It usually is a mix of sour orange, and spices. A little goes a long way though. If you can’t find this, you can totally omit this ingredient. For many years, I made picadillo without it and it tasted just fine, I just like the flavor it adds. But again, this is totally optional.
Let everything simmer on medium to medium low heat for about 10 minutes. Then add the olives. I use a splash of the olive brine to add some flavor to this dish too. Lastly, add the ketchup and mix all of the ingredients. Cook for another 10 minutes on medium-low heat.
There are a few things that I have seen people add or omit from this dish. I like mine with olives and potatoes, but when I looked in my pantry, I realized that all the potatoes were gone so I made it without them. If you would like to add the potatoes, what you would do is peel them. Then cut into small cubes. Most people fry them, but I bake them on a cookie sheet lined with foil. I spray the foil with Pam and bake at 400 degrees. If you were going to include potatoes, this is the first step you should do, as they take a while to brown in the oven. Then you would add them to the skillet after adding the olives. Some people add raisins, but I am not a fan of raisins so I omit them. The last step is to sit down and enjoy this yummy food.