Abuela’s Picadillo is simply delicious. In fact, we would argue that a good plate of the Perfect White Rice, topped with this picadillo, and a perfectly runny egg on top is one of the best bites on the planet.
Abuela’s Picadillo is not just delicious. It is planted deep at the center of Cuban tradition. There is not a Cuban restaurant in town, or a Cuban family that doesn’t have some version of Picadillo on the menu or in the weekly rotation.
We think picadillo is actually one of the more approachable recipes for you to try out. There are not too many steps, and each step is very forgiving. Meaning that if you do happen to make a mistake, there are ways to counter it so you can continue making it. Also there are so many flavors working together here that your mistake will be easy to hide.
For example, if you over cook the meat at the beginning, you can just simmer it for less time at the end of the recipe. If you put too much tomato sauce, you can add a little more water to take away some of the taste.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are going into making your first picadillo or you want to give our recipe a try.
First, the meat. We would recommend using a good quality Ground Chuck. The chuck has a little more fat on it, so it can simmer longer without drying out. If you are going to use a leaner meat or opting for ground turkey, make sure that you are conscience of this and don’t simmer it for too long. It can overcook and get dry.
Second, we are big believers in baking your potatoes over frying them. However this should not stop you from frying if that is what you want to do. We find that by baking them, it’s a little healthier and you can free yourself up to start the sofrito. Again, do what makes you feel comfortable.
Finally, we add raisins here. Now, there is a great debate surrounding picadillo. People will fight to the death over whether you throw in the raisins or not. They will tell you that the raisins are disgusting. The side against raisins will tell you that the picadillo will taste the same without them.
These people are wrong. No matter what your personal feelings are in regards to raisins- they belong in the picadillo. It will not be the same without it. The only time we would advise that you make a picadillo without raisins would be if you absolutely have no other choice. You don’t have raisins on hand, or you ate them all because, sidenote, raisins are delicious.
Cristy gets so heated up about this topic she wrote an entire article about it (find that HERE).
A real traditional Picadillo will be served over the Perfect White Rice, and a perfectly fried runny egg. Now if you are ready, we can get our sofrito going.
Abuela’s PicadilloCourse: Entree
1½ ground beef (good quality chuck 80/20 or ground round 90/10)
2 tablespoon Canola Oil
¼ tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 potato chopped into small squares
1 cubanelle pepper, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
½ cup of tomato sauce
1/3 cup pimento stuffed Spanish olives with 1 tablespoon brine from jar
1/3 cup raisins
1 cup of great quality Vino Seco or white wine
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Most recipes call for the potatoes to be chopped and deep fried, but we have always found that while delicious it isn’t such a major difference and it’s just easier to bake them.
So the choice is yours, you are free to fry. If you want to bake, Preheat the oven to 400 and take your chopped potatoes spread them out on a baking sheet and drizzle with one to two tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle oregano, and garlic powder over the potatoes. Mix it up and throw it in the oven to bake for about 25 minutes or until golden. Make sure to move them around halfway.
- While those are baking, heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Generously season the brick of meat with salt and pepper. Place the brick of ground beef directly onto the pan. Do not break up the meat. Leave it whole, and you want to just get the meat golden brown on the outside. Then you want to flip it, and do the same on the other side. It doesn’t have to be fully cooked through. You just want it to develop some color and flavor. Then remove from the heat and set aside.
- In that same pot with the drippings from the meat build the sofrito. Add the onion, peppers, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper and saute until onion is soft, stirring frequently, about 4-5 minutes. Then add in the garlic. Saute another two minutes. Add ½ cup tomato sauce and stir in with all the vegetables for about a minute.
- Raise heat to high and add the browned ground beef and the vino seco. Be sure to mix into the sofrito. Cook together on medium high for 10-12 minutes.
- Then take the heat to medium low adding the pimento stuffed Spanish olives, raisins. Take the potatoes out of the oven and throw them in and simmer for 5 minutes so they absorb some of the juices. Let sit for 15- 20 minutes. If you need some water go ahead and add ¼ cup.
Taste for salt and pepper.
- Serve warm: over white rice with fried eggs (huevo frito) over and a side of fried plantains and cuban crackers.