This is a ground beef dish, the name sort of means chopped up, minced. It is an easy every day dish, while at the same time being fancy enough for company.
When we were young children, in Cuba, our father was gone a lot helping his father run their plantation and also working at a distillery. Sundays, however, were family days. I loved Sundays! We would go visit relatives and friends on Sundays, especially those who lived too far for a casual weekday evening visit. We drove for miles along softly rolling hills covered in beautiful, green sugar cane fields and dotted with majestic Royal palms or dark green groves of trees. I loved the long drives, talking and singing songs together, or just listening to our mother sing old love songs in her beautiful voice. Once we arrived at our varied destinations, there were usually other children to play with and my sister Isis and I were able to explore in the hills and groves and recreate the adventures we had read in books. Baby sister Nina was too young to join our play, had to stay near the parents. Almost always there was a meal to share. Picadillo reminds me of those Sundays.
Speaking of Isis and Picadillo. She was a very picky eater as a baby. One day when she had refused every type of baby food Mamina had made for her, our grandfather asked for a small dish of Picadillo and rice and sitting her on his lap hand fed her. She ate every bite. I guess she just wanted grown up food, forget the bland baby mash! Or maybe she felt special being fed by our Abuelo. She still loves and makes delicious Picadillo!
1 lb hamburger
1 med onion
4-5 garlic cloves
½ green pepper
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
¼ cup cooking wine (optional)
1 teaspoons salt
1/2-2/3 cup Raisins 1/2-2/3 cup Green olives
This is a picture of the picadillo before adding the tomato sauce, olives and raisins.
Brown beef with onion, garlic and green pepper. Continue cooking on medium heat. When the onions are becoming translucent, add the tomato sauce and cooking wine. cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes then add the raisins and green olives and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. I add raisins and olives until “it looks right”. My sister Isis is more exact, she stirs them in and aims for 1 raisin per inch of meat and 1 olive every 11/2 inch.
My mother rarely added the raisins or olives. I think she got out of the habit because as the Communists took over Cuba, niceties like raisins and olives were some of the first things that disappeared from the stores. Then when we got to the US she continued to make do without these luxuries, to save money and help our family make it in this country.
I love the combination of sweet and salty tastes, but it was too exotic for my children when they were young. It’s great with or without the raisins and olives.
Serve with rice or mashed potatoes. I like to make a large quantity of Picadillo and use the leftovers to put on top of salads or as taco filling.