I’ve been a little more than under the weather this week. When I’m sick, all I want is comfort food. Chicken soup and pasta and things my mom used to make when I was growing up. Picadillo is a really simple Cuban dish that’s basically cumin-spiked ground beef with onions, garlic, tomato and pimento-stuffed olives. Some people also add raisins, but I am not down with that. At all. This isn’t fancy food or weekend food, but it’s perfect for weekday dinners or quick lunches. It’s simple, delicious and versatile.
Like everything else with Cuban food, Picadillo is most often served with white rice and black beans. Since I’m not a big rice person (and I can never make it as good as my mom does), I put mine on top of creamy polenta. It also makes a great taco stuffing or baked potato topping. Picadillo also makes a pretty good, Cuban-style sloppy joe.
If you’ve never had Picadillo, give it a try. You might just find that it becomes one of your go-to weeknight dishes. Either way, it made me feel a little better this week.
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. lean or extra-lean ground beef
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. salt (to taste)
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, saute the onions for about 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the beef and reduce to medium heat.
Brown the beef, using a wooden spoon to break up any large pieces, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, cumin and salt and stir until combined. If your pan is dry, add 2 tbsp. of water to help the tomato paste dissolve. Let simmer for another 5 minutes or so, then stir in the olives.
Serve with white rice, over polenta, in tacos, etc…