I am currently hung up on the world of Cuban foods. I am in love with the flavor combinations, techniques and old recipes. I have gotten a bit involved with the Cuban community on facebook and they have enlightened me, humored me and inspired me.
So, I will forge on ahead with my adventure of this fabulous cuisine, share my experiences with various versions of recipes, all of which are shared with me. As with any dish, there’s always more than one way to prepare it and all still be old school and authentic.
The recipes I share in this series of Cuban foods will be as authentic as the folks that shared them with me. There are numerous variations of this classic, versatile dish called Picadillo. Paul and I have traveled to Fort Lauderdale a few times on vacation with friends who introduced us to a fabulous restaurant called Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine. It was there that I discovered my love for Empanadas. My oh MY! They can list it as an appetizer, but I’m here to tell you I can make a meal on just the Empanadas with a big side of plantains! Oh, we can not forget the plantains! Then finish the meal with a classic Cafe’ Con Leche.
In order to make Empanadas, we must first make the meat filling. My personal favorite is the beef Empanadas. The beef mixture is called Picadillo, which is the recipe I’m here to share with you today. This recipe closely resembles Fort Lauderdale’s restaurant, in the humble opinion of those who have been my guinea pigs and critiqued them on more than one occasion. I’m almost embarrassed to tell them that my menu is the same as the last few times they were here! Gotta get it right though. Just saying…
Picadillo is a meat mixture that is used not only in Empanadas, but also in many Cuban and Puerto Rican dishes. For example: served over yellow rice and topped with olives, Stuffed Poblano Peppers smothered in cheese, Puerto Rican style Lasagna and in Spaghetti Meat Sauce.
This meat mixture freezes perfectly, so why not make a big batch and put it into serving size containers for future weeknight and quick meals?
This is how I make it.
The instructions are truly shorter than my leading story! So simple to make.
In your skillet over medium high heat, brown the lean ground beef until it’s no longer visibly pink, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Drain excess grease.
I like an 80/20 ground chuck for mine.
Lower the heat to a medium and add the chopped onions. Stir and cook until the onions are tender and transparent. This will take about 5 minutes.
The only thing left to do is add the flavors and simmer!
So, add the diced green olives, garlic, oregano, black pepper, Sazon, Sofrito, tomato sauce and water. Bring to a bubble, reduce to low and let simmer for 15 minutes to marry the flavors.
Here’s my experience with Sazon and Sofrito. Sazon is basically the Spanish version of season salt. I have used a couple different brands, one being Goya and the other is Badia. They’re both good, but my personal preference is Badia. It has a little different set of spices that makes it more flavorful, in my humble opinion. (No, Badia didn’t pay me to say that… They don’t know I exist) Typically Sazon includes cilantro, achiote and garlic in the salt mixture. The one I used in this recipe is Badia Sazon, Tropical with cilantro and annatto. Annatto comes from the seeds of the achiote tree.
Sofrito is basically a combination of onion, green peppers, cilantro, garlic and olive oil. Goya has one that I really like, already prepared in a jar for super convenience. The one I used in this recipe is Goya Sofrito – tomato base. They also have a green one that I use in other recipes.
It is common for me to double, even triple this recipe for the freezer!
Something to note about Picadillo. Depending on what you’re using it for will determine how saucy you’ll want it. For Beef Empanadas, you’ll want it to be thick and not runny. To pour it over rice, you might want it saucier. In that case, I suggest doubling the tomato sauce.
So, now that we have the Picadillo made, what do we do with it besides pour it over rice? I will be adding some recipes, showing ways we eat it. As I do, I’ll come back and add a link. My next post will be none other than Empanadas! So, come on back! UPDATE: See Beef Empanadas below!
So far, I have shared these Cuban and Brazilian recipes.
Here’s the printer friendly recipe.