I am so excited to share this classic Cuban recipe with you!! I grew up eating authentic Cuban picadillo, and this recipe is for sure one of the most popular among Cubans living outside the island and anyone in contact with Cuban food.
If you are on the island looking for a ground beef recipe, you know that the ingredients listed here are forbidden there. It is such a shame, but it is the reality.
I want to tribute to my Cuban origins (mi Tierra Bonita)and share this fantastic beef picadillo recipe with the rest of the world.
Why do you have to try this Cuban picadillo recipe?.. simply delicious, saucy in all its glory, and has an earthy and complex layer of flavours yet is humble and easy to prepare.
This Higado a la Italiana is another authentic Cuban recipe.
What is Cuban Picadillo made of?
The main ingredient of an authentic Cuban picadillo recipe is ground beef. Some may mix ground pork or even ground ham, but ground beef is the way for an authentic Cuban-style picadillo recipe.
Red peppers, green peppers, or a combination of both, give this recipe a sweet fruity note. They are also in the sofrito, the base for every Cuban dish.
Onions are also in the sofrito, and they make up every single Cuban recipe you can think of.
Garlic is another essential ingredient of the Cuban picadillo.
Everything else, from raisins and olives, can be left out. But to be transparent here, they truly enhance the flavour of this recipe. If raisins are not your thing, follow this recipe to the note, and don’t add raisins.
Why are there raisins in Picadillo?
There are several reasons why raisins are included in Picadillo. One reason is that they provide a sweet, licorice, and fruity contrast to the savoury flavours of the meat and spices.
This creates a more complex and interesting flavour profile for the dish. Additionally, the raisins can help balance the acidity of the tomatoes and other acidic ingredients in the dish.
Another reason why raisins are included in Cuban picadillo is that they add a unique texture to the dish. When the raisins are cooked with the other ingredients, they become soft and plump. This provides a pleasant contrast to the tender ground meat and the crisp vegetables.
What is the difference between ropa vieja and picadillo?
Another super popular Cuban recipe is ropa vieja, which is not the same as picadillo. While picadillo uses ground beef, ropa vieja uses shredded beef. The cooking method is similar but not quite the same.
Ropa vieja is slow-cooked in a tomato-based sauce with onions, peppers, garlic, and spices. The meat is cooked until it is tender enough to be easily shredded with a fork; hence the name “ropa vieja,” which means “old clothes” in Spanish. It is typically served with rice and beans and sometimes fried plantains.
On the other hand, Cuban beef picadillo is a dish made with ground beef that has been sautéed with onions, garlic, and spices. The mixture typically combines potatoes, tomatoes, raisins, olives, and sometimes peppers or capers. It is often served with rice and sometimes with beans or plantains.
How to make this authentic Cuban picadillo recipe
The base of almost every Cuban dish starts with a sofrito. Sofrito is onions, garlic, and peppers sauteed in oil. This may be different for another Latin American country.
Start by cutting the onion and the pepper into small cubes. Then smash the garlic to make a paste or chop them finely.
Set a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.
Once the oil is hot, start adding the 3 cloves of garlic, minced first, followed by the onions once the garlic is translucid. Once the onions start getting soft, incorporate the red bell peppers.
Saute the sofrito for about 2 to 3 minutes when all the ingredients start to caramelize but without letting them burnt.
Add the ground beef at this point. Stir vigorously so the ground beef loosens into small pieces. You can use lean ground beef if you want to eat healthier.
You can add all the ingredients at once. But if you do it, as I previously mentioned, the recipe will develop more flavours.
Add the dry ingredients, cumin, oregano, paprika, ground black pepper, and salt to taste.
I had to correct the amount of salt I used initially because it wasn’t enough to my taste. Do the same after you condiment with salt and taste the results to match your saltiness taste.
Add the raisins, capers, green olives, and tomato sauce.
I use tomatoes a lot in my recipes. They contain glutamate that helps enhance the flavour of any dish. Try this bean soup with tomatoes, for example.
Add the cooking wine once you mix all the ingredients and the sauce starts reducing. Cuban cooking wine has a pretty characteristic flavour. We call it dry-cooking wine. In all the years of living here, I haven’t found a close substitute that tastes the same.
If you are in Miami, you are more likely to get it there. If you don’t, just use a cooking wine you have in hand.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Wait for the flavour to settle for about 10 minutes, and enjoy!
What to serve with this authentic Cuban picadillo recipe
I usually do picadillo with white rice. You should have it with fried ripe plantains(platanos maduros fritos) to give it true authenticity. That is the best way to have this recipe if you want to impress a Cuban.
My grandma used to serve this dish with boiled Cuban-style sweet potatoes, cassava(yuca), or mashed plantains.
But when it comes to pairing this dish with a side, as a guideline, select side dishes that are low fat and are mainly dry, not saucy, so the sauce from the picadillo can elevate your dining experience.
What to do with leftovers of this authentic Cuban recipe
When I cook this recipe, I do it so I can have leftovers for lunch during the week. So it is perfectly fine to store it in the fridge. You can store Ground beef in the refrigerator safely for up to 4 days.
Before storing it, make sure you let it cool to room temperature. Place it in an airtight container and place it in the fridge.
If you have lots of leftovers that you won’t eat within 4 days, you can also freeze this recipe for up to 3 months without losing taste or nutrients. Just make sure to label it with the date you cook it so you won’t forget.
If you are bored of eating the same over and over again, you can repurpose this recipe and turn your leftovers into tacos, chilli, soup, or even a sandwich.
The next day the flavours are spectacular. So you can bank on that to make different recipes.
you could also prepare lasagna with the leftovers. It will make the best lasagna ever.
Additions and Substitutes.
If you are not into raisins, you can substitute them with dry cranberries, dry apricots cut into small cubes, or any other dry fruit of your choice.
You can combine green bell pepper with the red, and green peppers and use half and half of each. This will give a burst of colour and will increase the nutritious value of your dish.
If you don’t have capers on hand, you can add more green olives to substitute them. But don’t be afraid to use them; they bring a distinctly unique touch to this comfort food dish.
Use the ground beef of your preference. If you are not using lean ground beef, you can remove the excess fat before adding crushed tomatoes and cooking wine.
I use crushed tomatoes because they are more flavorful in general; you can use tomato paste diluted so it makes a cup of tomato sauce.
You should adjust the salt and pepper to your taste. Some people tolerate heat more than others.
If you like to spice things up a bit, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I always ad hot spices to each plat individually. Not everybody at home likes them. You can do the same.
For me, it was 15 minutes cook time. If, after that time, your beef is not done and the sauce starts to dry, add more water or cooking wine and extend the cooking time to your need.
You could also follow this ground pork recipe with tomato sauce is as delicious as this one.
Authentic Cuban picadillo recipe
- 1 spatula
- 1 Cooking Pan
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon capres
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup olives
- 1 cup crunch tomatoes
- 1 cup cooking wine
- 1 tablespoon salt Adjust to your taste
- Start by cutting the onion and the pepper into small cubes, Smash the garlic. This is the base for the sofrito.
- Turn on the stove, and on the cooking pan, add the oil.
- start adding the garlic first, followed by the onions once the garlic is translucid. Once the onions start getting soft, incorporate the peppers.
- Saute the sofrito for about 2 to 3 minutes when all the ingredients start to caramelize.
- Add the ground beef at this point. Stir vigorously so the ground beef loosens into small pieces.
- Add the dry ingredients, cumin, oregano, paprika, ground black pepper, and salt to taste.
- Add the raisins, capers, olives, and tomato sauce.
- Once all the ingredients are mixed and the sause starts to reduce, add the cooking wine to deglace
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Wait for the flavor to settle for about 10 minutes, and enjoy!
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 11g||14%|
|Saturated Fat 2.7g||13%|
|Total Carbohydrate 18g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 2.6g||9%|
|Total Sugars 10.9g|
|Vitamin D 0mcg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
|Recipe analyzed by|