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  • Writer's pictureitslaurenofcourse


Updated: Aug 16, 2020

Think of this as a sweet-and-sour Cuban chili that you'll want to make again and again.


Picadillo is prepared in many parts of Latin America, but it is most popular in Cuba where pimento-stuffed olives are featured in the dish. I first learned about it when I styled a cooking segment for the Estefans (as in Gloria and Emilio) on ABC's The View. After just one quick read of the recipe, I knew I would love it! After making it and ordering it many times over the years, I developed my version to punctuate what is most appealing about picadillo: that beautiful harmony of sweet and sour coupled with a variety of textures: briny olives and capers, sweet and juicy raisins, tender green peppers and onions, a touch of pucker from some dry white wine, and lots concentrated tomato flavor throughout the beef base. Serve this over steamed rice. Strain the leftovers in a colander and use as a filling for empanadas. Delicioso!

Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; Dutch oven or large pot; wooden spoon

Ingredients: 1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, minced 2 medium yellow onions, diced 1 green bell pepper, trimmed and diced

3 pounds ground beef (90 percent lean) 2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano ½ teaspoon ground cumin 2 bay leaves 2 cups crushed tomatoes (or plain tomato sauce) ¾-1 cup dry white wine

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup golden raisins ½ cup pimento-stuffed spanish olives (cut in half crosswise if large)

2 tablespoons capers, strained kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the garlic, onions, and pepper, and stir for about 3-4 minutes, or until translucent.

2. Add in the ground beef, breaking up the chunks, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until no longer pink. Sprinkle in the salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin. Stir well to incorporate. Add the bay leaves.

3. Stir in the tomato sauce, wine and brown sugar. Then add the raisins, olives, and capers.

4. Bring the picadillo to a bubbling simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and cook the picadillo for 30 minutes, stirring two or three times. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

5. Serve immediately over steamed white rice.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Store in an airtight container for up to one week, or make in advance and freeze immediately after it cools.

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