Picadillo Cuban Style
This savory ground beef dish is quite versatile, with variations throughout the Caribbean and South America.
In a large skillet, heat oil and saute onions and scallions, 5-7 minutes till translucent. Add garlic, stirring for 3 more minutes. Add ground beef and brown, stirring to break up clumps. When meat is browned, drain off any fat.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer on low heat, uncovered, till the mix thickens, 10-12 minutes or more. Stir ocassionally. Discard bay leaves, correct for seasoning.
Serve warm with rice. Or use as a filling for our Roti flatbread. Serve with Pineapple Coleslaw.
** Some like it hot. If you do, add more cayenne—or add 1 tsp. jalapeno, habanero, or Scotch bonnet pepper (seeded and diced).
Tips & Glossary
Caribbean cuisine is an exquisite blend of African, Asian, European, and Carib Indian (the area's original inhabitants) foods. Dishes are highly seasoned, either with a dry rub or marinade —or both. Below are some typical ingredients found in Caribbean food.
Callaloo: young leaves of either the taro root plant or amaranth; used widely in Caribbean cooking. Spinach can be used as a substitute.
Spices: Allspice, bay leaves, black pepper, chives, chili peppers, cilantro, cinnamon, coconut, curry powder, escallion, garlic, ginger, lime, mace, nutmeg, onion, oregano, sugar, thyme, orange, tomato paste, vanilla, cayenne (red) pepper.
Jerk: Jamaican cooking method in which meat is rubbed, prior to grilling, with a blend of seasonings, often firey hot.
• 1 T each—onion powder, garlic powder, dried chives, brown sugar; 2 tsp. each— (ground) allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon; 1 tsp. each—sage. thyme, salt, black pepper, cayenne (or more to taste). Mix thoroughly and store in a tightly covered jar.
There are thousands of versions; figure out what flavors you like most and add or subtract accordingly.
Typical meats: goat, pork, chicken, and some beef (though beef has tended to be expensive).
Fish: varieties that abound in surrounding waters, some familiar to us—grouper, cod, tilapia, blue marlin; others not so—200 species of jack, chip-chips (tiny clams), casadura (primitive armored catfish).
Native plant foods:
More familiar foods:
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