Cuban picadillo is one of the great dishes of the Cuban diaspora: a soft, fragrant stew of ground beef and tomatoes, with raisins added for sweetness and olives for salt. Versions of it exist across the Caribbean and into Latin America. Cuban picadillo combines ground beef with intensely seasoned dried Spanish chorizo in a sofrito of onions, garlic and tomatoes, and scents it with red-wine vinegar, cinnamon and cumin, along with bay leaves and pinches of ground cloves and nutmeg. For the olives you may experiment with fancy and plain, but rigorous testing here suggests the use of pimento-stuffed green olives is the best practice. A scattering of capers would be welcome as well. If you never tried Cuban cuisine before, this recipe will make you feel sorry you never did.
INGREDIENTS 1 lb ground meat 1 large onion, chopped 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped 1 small can tomato sauce 1/4 cup dry white wine Pimiento stuffed olives Raisins
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large skillet, brown the ground meat, onions and garlic. If meat is not too lean, pour out whatever fat you render. Turn heat down to medium low. Add the tomato sauce and wine. While it simmers, chop up the pimiento stuffed olives and add to meat mixture, it is ok to add a little bit of the brine, if you wish.
Add the raisins and adjust the seasonings. I like my picadillo almost dry, not too soupy. Serve Cuban picadillo over fluffy, white rice. If you like it soupier, just add more tomato sauce and/or wine, if you wish.
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