Cuban-Style Picadillo

Written by Eli Ben-Yehuda

On May 26, 2021

A tender hash of beef, cooked in wine with warm spices like cumin and cinnamon, and an abundance of umami from a sofrito, the beauty of Cuban Picadillo is that it avoids the trap of monotony with the addition of tart salty olives, plump sweet raisins, and waxy potatoes. Each bite brings with it a completely different concoction of textures and tastes which will keep your fork going back for more.

Traditional recipes call for a splash of vinegar at the end, but I like hitting my picadillo with the brine from the olives. It adds the requisite tartness while imparting an additional blast of umami that rounds out the dish at the end.

Ingredients:

For The Sofrito

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 190 grams onion (finely chopped 1 medium )
  • 140 grams red bell pepper (chopped 1 small pepper)
  • 20 grams garlic (finely minced 3 large cloves)

The Picadillo

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 450 grams lean ground beef
  • 205 grams whole stewed tomatoes (1/2 small can
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 140 grams potatoes (cut into 1/2 inch cubes 1 medium potato)
  • 50 grams raisins (~1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 65 grams stuffed green olives (~1/2 cup, coarsely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon olive brine (to taste)

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Instructions

1. Add the oil, onions, bell pepper, and garlic to a frying pan over medium heat and sauté until the onions are tender and starting to caramelize around the edges.

2. Add the oregano, cumin, cinnamon and bay leaves, and sauté until very fragrant.

3. Add the beef, tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, potatoes, raisins, and salt and break up the meat and tomatoes using a spatula.

4. Partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes).

5. Remove the lid and add the olives. Let the picadillo cook until most of the liquid is gone, leaving a thick sauce that coats the beef (about 10 minutes).

6. When the picadillo is finished, stir in the olive brine (liquid the olives came in) and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

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