Cuban Picadillo [Arroz a la Cubana]

Cuban Picadillo [Arroz a la Cubana]



For the longest time I’ve been wanting to make my own chili.  A friend had given me some venison over the winter and also had a recipe for that, however after watching America’s Test Kitchen on PBS this weekend, it really sparked my interest to make my own.  Plus, I had a couple of pounds of mixed chopped meat I was going to make meatballs with.  The problem I ran into, was on the website, it blurred out the ingredients/recipe unless I joined their website.  Seems like no matter how simple my task, someone wants to extract more information from me to send me more emails for more solicitations.  I can’t even watch amateur videos on YouTube without being forced to watch an ad first.  Forget the fact there are ads on the top and sides of the video, but literally every few seconds a banner ad on the video itself pops up blocking at least a third of the viewing area I constantly have to click X to get rid of.  Really annoying.

So, I decided to take a stab at it and make it my own way, from memory and substituting ingredients I didn’t have on hand and I have to say I totally nailed it.  Here is how I did it:

  • 1.5 – 2lbs of ground beef/pork/veal
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 7 Large Green Olives stuffed with Pimentos
  • 1 Glass Dry Red Wine
  • 2 Ounces Raisins (I used dried cranberries)
  • 1 Small can of Tomato Sauce

What I omitted and/or did not have on hand: Cumin, capers, baking soda, and maybe something else, but I can certainly tell you nothing was missing in terms of flavor or complexity.  I rarely eat leftovers, but today I decided to put them in tacos, honestly, the tacos only took away from the great flavor.  This is best served with white rice.

You start, as you would start with any Spanish dish, with sofrito.  Finely dice your garlic, onion and bell pepper and sauté in olive oil with some sea salt until the vegetables begin to soften.  Add in a bay leaf, and your chopped meat.  Put the lid on it and in a few minutes with a fork or spoon break apart the meat and mix it a bit so it continues to brown.  Cover it again, and then add in your wine.  Leave the lid off and allow the alcohol from the wine to boil out for at least 5 minutes.  Add in your tomato sauce and place the lid back on and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.  This can be anywhere from 45minutes to an hour.  Now, the part which might have improved this recipe would have been to add in the raisins with the tomato sauce.  I decided at the last minute to use dried cranberries, and it worked fine.  They retained their sweetness but not the tartness, which was good.  In the final minutes I added in the chopped or diced green olives with pimentos, stirred and gave it about another 10 minutes or so.  I am sure I cooked it longer than I needed to, but it came out great.

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