Picadillo is Spanish for “hash” (or “mince”). Essentially, this is a Cuban version of the good old American mélange, eaten on its own or used as a filling for empanadas. Spanish influences, specifically Andalusian, are obvious due to the addition of olives and raisins. Picadillo is often served topped with hard-cooked or fried eggs and is usually accompanied by fried plantains.
Although I love peppers, I’m not one of those crazy people that shoves whole habaneros in her mouth… funny story about that, actually.
The year was 1993 and I was living in Guadalajara, México. I was a student at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara and a group of us were out strolling the Mercado Libertad, which is a huge multi-level market. It houses everything from food to shoes to flowers. Here we are, a bunch of 20 year old kids walking around with eyes popping out of our heads. This was the first time most of us had been on our own in a foreign country. We happened upon this vendor of chiles. You know where this is going, don’t you?! A girl in our group stated that she could handle really spicy food and was going to buy a few peppers. We tried (in vain) to warn her that these were seriously hot and she shouldn’t pop the entire thing into her mouth. Let’s just that the afternoon took a turn… to the Emergency Room! I guess I shouldn’t have said a “funny” story, just “a story”.
I’m not one to eat a whole habanero, but I do enjoy a little heat. The kind that makes your lips and tongue tingle, not the kind that feels like someone lit a match on them. I seem to have a higher tolerance for heat than some, which means that I may not be the best person to ask if something is spicy. We burn through jars and jars of chile paste like it’s going out of style (I assure you, it is NOT). Most of the spicy food we eat happens to be Asian. Bowls of noodles in fiery broth are my happy place. Food from Latin America is a close second and for good reason: I’m married to a Texan, I used to live in Mexico and we currently live in Florida. I chose this particular recipe to share because I love picadillo. I know, I’m totally selfish. I make big batches of this delicious filling to make empanadas. The saltiness of the olives with the sweetness of the raisins is really good.
My very favorite thing about this book is its inclusion of food from around the globe. I love exploring cultures through food and this book is a peek into how chile peppers really are a global ingredient. It’s fun to try new recipes and flavors, especially when the recipes are so varied and enticing!
More than picadillo!
Below is a short list of some of the 250 recipes you’ll find in this book. I have my eye on the Spinach and Tomato Dal next… What would be your first choice?
– Middle Eastern Walnut Dip (Middle East)
– Chinese Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup (China)
– Original San Antonio Chili (US)
– Cape Verde Sausage Stew (Africa)
– Spinach and Tomato Dal (Indian)
– Calabrese-Style Fried Potatoes with Peppers (Italian)
– Kimchi (Korea)
– Mexican-Style Tomato Juice – (Mexico)
– Chile-Spiked Chocolate Pots – (French)
To get your own copy of this awesome book, click the link below!
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 each - red and green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ⁄2 habanero pepper, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1 ⁄4 lbs lean ground beef
- 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
- 1 ⁄2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 piece 2 inches/5 cm long cinnamon stick
- 1 ⁄4 cup dry sherry
- 1 can, 28 oz/796 mL tomatoes, with juice
- 1 ⁄2 cup dark raisins
- 12 large pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
- Finely chopped fresh parsley
- In skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, red and green bell peppers, habanero pepper and garlic and stir well. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until vegetables are very soft, about 10 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- Add oregano, cumin and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add sherry and cook, stirring, until almost all of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and juice, and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in raisins, olives, and salt and black pepper to taste. Cook until olives are heated through, about 1 minute.
- Transfer to a large deep serving platter. Sprinkle chopped eggs over top. Garnish with parsley. Serve hot.
You can substitute Cubanelle peppers for the red and green bell peppers if you like.
I have used a habanero here because these peppers are common throughout the Caribbean, and I like the slightly fruity flavor they impart to this dish. However, it may be more common to find picadillo made with jalapeño peppers, even though purists suggest that jalapeños are not used in Cuban cooking. Both chiles do a fine job of bringing heat to this dish, so use whatever is easiest or suits your taste. If you’re using jalapeños, you’ll need 1 to 2.
Instead of garnishing the entire dish with chopped eggs, transfer individual servings to warm soup plates or deep bowls and top each with a fried egg. Garnish liberally with parsley.
Adapted from The Chile Pepper Bible