Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cuban Cuisine: Picadillo

This recipe post is way, way overdue.  I hope to start a new section under the Recipe Index of just Cuban cuisine.  And first, I must apologize for Picadillo's lack of photogenic appeal.  Although it may not look too appetizing, it is one of the most flavorful dishes I've ever tasted and my man's favorite Cuban meal.

I had never even heard of this dish before meeting Israel and visiting Miami for the first time a little over two years ago.  My husband took me to his favorite Cuban restaurant, La Carreta, which is sort of the like the Cuban's mecca in Miami.  I had no idea what to order and Israel suggested ordering this as my introduction to Cuban cuisine.

Picadillo roughly translates to "minced meat," or "hamburger hash."  It is made with the typical "sofrito," or sauteeing of green pepper, onion and garlic, along with the typical Cuban spices.  Traditionally served along with rice and black beans, Israel would probably consider this the perfect meal.

The first and second times I made this, it was a disaster.  Because it is a family recipe and there were no real measurements, just "un chin" (a little) of this and "un chin" of that, it made things very confusing for this American girl.  I've copied down different versions and translations of this "recipe" from all the women in Israel's family.  So I've had to figure things out as I've gone along.  I now make it often enough to consider it part of our dinner rotation and believe I have finally mastered this dish!  Here is my adaptation:



- 3 T. Olive Oil
- 1 Yellow Onion, diced
- 1 Green Pepper, diced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp. Oregano, heaping
- Dash of Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp. Cumin

- 1 lb. Ground Beef
- Splash of White Wine
- 1 16 oz. Can Tomato Sauce
- 1 tsp. Salt
- Dash of Black Pepper


For the sofrito, first heat Olive Oil in a large pot under medium heat.  Saute onion in Olive Oil until translucent then add in green pepper and garlic.  Combine with bay leaves, oregano, garlic powder and cumin until well mixed and green pepper and onion are soft.  

Push sofrito mix to the sides of pot and add ground beef in the middle.  When it is browned, stir in can of tomato sauce.  Keep stirring mixture around until it cooks down a little bit.  Pour in splash of white wine and continue to stir.  Add salt and pepper.  Cook on medium low heat until meat is less wet and most of the tomato sauce has been absorbed.  

Serve over white rice.  Enjoy!

Stay tuned for my recipe for Cuban Black Beans!


  1. Yum!! The ingredients are definitely simple enough that I'm sure I have them in my cupboards or refrigerator most of the time. Can't wait to try making this myself!

  2. Oh yeah, girl! It comes together in about an hour or so and it's really not too difficult to make. I don't know why I had such trouble with it the first time or two!

  3. I would like to prepare it too! You included such explanatory, easy steps which will be helpful! I"m sure Baby Girl will love it too someday!!

  4. Glad to see that still you feel like cooking, jaja..
    Well done Elena, will be watching for your Cuban black beans!!

  5. oh gosh, you definitely should because i absolutely love cuban food. YUM!
    xo TJ

  6. We sure loved it when you made it for us. I just may have to try it myself!

  7. Marialuisa, haha... I took these pictures three months ago. ;) I've been saving this recipe for a little while.

  8. Mom, thanks! It took a lot of times making this to finally figure out the steps and measurements!

    Patty, I'm so glad you guys liked it! It's a Cuban favorite around here.

  9. just made this... hubby is running out for olives...
    i've made this before and it is delish!