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Caribbean—Picadillo Cuban Style

 

Caribbean Entreepicadillo

Picadillo Cuban Style
(Serves 6)

This savory ground beef dish is quite versatile, with variations throughout the Caribbean and South America.


1/4 C peanut or vegetable oil
1 medium onion (chopped)
6 scallions (chopped, with some green part)
8 cloves garlic (crushed or minced)
2 lbs. ground beef
2 C diced tomatoes with juice
1/4 C tomato paste
1/2 C raisins
2/3 C green olives with pimentos (sliced)
1/4 C capers (rinsed and drained)
6 bay leaves*
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper**
1/4 tsp. cumin

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.


* Use Turkish bay leaves if you can find them—they're milder than the California version. If you can't find them, use 4-5 leaves and add a tiny pinch of cinnamon.

** Some like it hot. If you do, add more cayenne—or add 1 tsp. jalapeno, habanero, or Scotch bonnet pepper (seeded and diced).

| See more Caribbean recipes |

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.

Jerk is also the name of the seasoning (from Spanish charqui, or dried meat). You can buy jerk in most grocery stores (even McCormick makes it), or can make and store your own.

• 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:
• ackee—peach-looking fruit with pulp like scrambled eggs
• annatto (achiote) seed
red coloring or flavoring agent w/ slightly sweet peppery taste.
• cassava root (taro root)
• malanaga root
• scotch bonnet peppers
• breadfruit—fruit used like a potato in salads, stews, even whipped.
• passion fruit

More familiar foods:
bananas and plantains, okra, yams, papaya, mangoes, coconut, yams, sweet potatoes, rice, beans, corn and cornmeal.

 

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