Tuesday, July 23, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Picadillo

© Constantine William Spyrou

Even though I am Greek and Chinese, my favorite foods to make and eat tend to come more from the Latin American area of the world, especially from Cuba and Mexico. I've had an obsession with being able to try Cuban food, which is hard to get around where I live. Almost nowhere sells or makes Cuban food of any kind, so I decided to go for broke and try making my own Cuban dish: Picadillo.

Picadillo is a traditional Cuban stew that is made with ground beef, olives (preferably Spanish olives), and sofrito, the traditional seasoning vegetable saute used in Cuban cuisine. The basic sofrito calls for onions, bell peppers, and garlic, though you can vary it to your liking. I also used cumin and oregano for the sofrito in this recipe. Sofrito is the base of most Cuban food, so a good Sofrito leads to a good Picadillo in turn.

Cuban food isn't necessarily spicy, but it is full of flavor and is good, hearty food. This picadillo embodies that, as the combination of the sofrito, beef, and olives harmonizes together well to make a full-flavored delicious entree. 

Recipe will serve up to 6 people.


3 cups Jasmine/White Rice or 2 lbs yellow potatoes, boiled and halved
1/2 large Spanish white onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
(Optional: 1 tablespoon roasted garlic olive oil, if you have it. Not necessary.)
1 pound ground beef
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 1/2 cups Mexican-style Beer (Any lager or light beer is perfect for this)
1 cup Spanish olives (with pimientos), halved and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to season


1. In a large saucepan, add the olive oil at medium high heat. Add in the diced onions, bell pepper, garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until the onions sweat and turn translucent.

2. Add in your ground beef and season once again. Break up the ground beef into small pieces to ensure that it browns quicker and better. Cook until all of the ground beef is browned, which should take another 5 minutes.

3. Deglaze your pan with the beer, and bring up to a boil. Turn down to a simmer once you reach the boil and let the beef simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with rice or boiled halved potatoes (if you use the potatoes, stir in with the beef before serving for the traditional Cuban picadillo experience!)

The dish is very simple to make, as you can see from the small amount of steps, but packs a huge amount of flavor into each bite. The long and slow cooking allows all of the flavors of the sofrito, spices, and beef to really combine and make a stunning dish. The beef stock just adds that extra depth to the flavor, and the olives help to balance it out.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change! If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

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