I’m sure by now you are sheltered at home, and you are looking for some easy, but exciting new things to do with ground beef.
Cuban picadillo, cooked low and slow, is a medley of layered flavors, balanced with the right amount of heat and acid. The active cook time is about 30 minutes as you chop veggies and layer in the flavors. After that, all you need to do is put in your slow cooker or dutch oven. I promise that after one bite, you will add this to your weekly rotation and make double batches to freeze.
We had a very busy few weeks and I made a lot of extra Lala Cakes for the bakery to deliver to hospitals and customers . The kitchen has been in fast and furious mode. I’ve mainly been making fast dinners that take little to no prep. I realized I was craving cooking something that would deliver a little more flavor and little more comfort. Cuban Picadillo fits that bill, and I’m so glad I doubled the recipe so we could have a lot of leftovers.
It felt good to get back to cooking, chopping, and building flavors.
This is as close to an authentic Cuban picadillo recipe as I can get with what I have no hand. The first thing you have to do is make Sazon Seasoning. You can buy Sazon, but I made my own.
How to Make Sazon Seasoning for Cuban Picadillo
The basics of Sazon Seasoning includes ground coriander, peppercorns, dried oregano, garlic powder, sea salt, cumin and ground annotto seeds.
You probably have most of this on hand outside of the annotto. However, you can substitute with paprika and a dash of nutmeg.
You can also buy Sazon seasoning like this.
What is Annotto?
The annato seeds, known as achiote, grow on the annato tree and are used for the red coloring, and elicit some flavor.
What is Cuban Picadillo?
Cuban Picadillo is Latin American brought to various countries from Spain, each touting their own version. This is closest to the Cuban version. You will sometimes see picadillo with veggies thrown in or potatoes.
The basic ingredients are ground beef, onion, carrot, garlic, tomato, oregano, capers and olives. The flavors are layered and brought to life with acid much like a bolognese. I was happy to find fresh oregano was still growing in a flower pot today.
Picadillo can be eaten as is, over rice, or stuffed into a taco or empanada. Doug likes to add avocado.
This is super delicious when reheated, so make plenty.
Cuban Picadillo Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 carrot diced
- 1 clove garlic sliced
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1 poblano or bell pepper seeded, diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 12 green Spanish olives cut cross wise
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 2 cups diced tomatoes can use canned
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey optional
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano or thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon sazon seasoning homemade recipe below
- 1 teaspoon salt season to taste
- 1 teaspoon black pepper season to taste
- Toast peppercorns and coriander seeds in frying pan until warmed through. Add all ingredients to spice blender and grind.
- Sauté onions and carrots in olive oil until onions are softened, about three minutes. Add in garlic, peppers.
- Add ground beef.
- Once meat is browned, add saźon seasoning.
- Add in olives, capers, can of tomatoes, vinegar, honey, and bay leaf. If the meat is extra lean, add in two more tablespoons of olive oil.
- Simmer over very low heat for two hours, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, this can be put into a slow cooker to simmer on low for 4 hours. Remove bay leaf and fresh oregano before serving.
- Garnish with fresh oregano or thyme.
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