Mmmmmmm! Picadillo…Cuban Comfort Food.
You might not know that I’m a big fan of Cuban food. It helps that I now live in Florida and get to visit and work in Miami somewhat frequently. However, one of the best and most memorable Cuban meals I’ve ever had was in the not so tropical location of Minneapolis, Minnesota!
What makes that even more interesting was that it was breakfast…one of my least favorite meals of the day.
Honestly, breakfast sucks when you can’t eat eggs or bread. Don’t even try pawning off those egg & gluten substitutes on me. I’ll just pass.
Going out to breakfast with me is often an entertaining but odd mix of cobbling together “extras” from the menu to make a meal…homefries, fruit, veggies if they’re available, grits if I’m really lucky, etc.
Well, when my friend Larry and I went to Victor’s 1959 Cuban Cafe, a funky little (very little) joint in South Minneapolis last summer, I don’t think it’s overstating things to say that I was served a breakfast that almost made my eggless gluten free self weep with joy.
I was picking through the menu trying to oder the breakfast hash without the egg, maybe a side of something else when the nice waitress who also happened to be GF and allergic to eggs said that if it wasn’t too weird for me to eat black beans at breakfast, why didn’t I just order the Picadillo from the regular lunch/dinner menu.
This plate of food made me sooooo happy! It also makes me wonder why we don’t all eat plantains for breakfast. Yum!
So when I received TWO Latin/Cuban cookbooks for Christmas, Picadillo was one of the first recipes I had to try at home.
Picadillo is basically a savory beef hash usually served with black beans and rice. It can also be used as a base filling for empanadas, tamales, fritters, etc. Even breakfast!
Here’s what you need:
Ground Beef, Onion, Green Pepper, Garlic, Parsley, Diced Tomatoes, Green Olives, Capers, Raisins, Olive Oil, Sherry Vinegar, Tomato Paste, Cumin, Oregano, White Wine (not shown), Salt & Pepper.
If you want to serve this with black beans and rice, get the rice started right away. (I’m still working out the black bean recipe…the ones I made were good but not great.)
Time to do some chopping…
1 medium onion – mine was on the larger side so I used about ¾ of my onion. You want at least 1 cup chopped although if you have more, just toss it in there…it’s hash after all.
1 green bell pepper, seeds and inner whitish membranes removed please.
And 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped.
Heat 3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. I’m using a non-stick skillet so I used a bit less oil.
Add the chopped veggies and season with 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, and ½ teaspoon each salt & pepper.
Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent but not browned, about 5-8 minutes, then add 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste.
Stir in the paste to coat all the veggies and combine. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes.
Turn the heat up to high and add 1-1½ pounds of lean ground beef. Look for the percentage of fat on the label and get one of the leaner varieties.
As the beef browns, use a spatula or spoon to break it apart into tiny bits.
Add 1 cup of diced tomatoes and their juice, 1/4 cup dry white wine, 1/4 cup dark raisins, and 1/4 cup pimiento stuffed green olives. I bought the small olives and sliced them in half.
Drain and lightly rinse 1 Tablespoon of capers and toss them in the pan.
You can see we’re getting that great sweet & salty combo going here.
Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 20 minutes. Check in occasionally and give it a stir so that it doesn’t stick.
When you are ready to serve, stir in 1 Tablespoon of sherry vinegar.
Taste the Picadillo and adjust the seasonings of salt & pepper to your own taste.
Serve garnished with a little chopped parsley and/or green onions.
If you can find some ripe Plantains, fry them up in a little butter and your meal will be PERFECT!
So, I realize that Picadillo is not traditionally meant for breakfast, but would you really say no to this with a fried egg on top?
I didn’t think so.
I’m not usually a huge ground beef fan other than the occasional burger but I LOVE Picadillo!
Here’s the recipe: from The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History