I have a general rule when researching recipes for the blog... if a recipe shows up on my screen 3 times from different sources in the space of 2 hours, then I must seriously consider it a contender. I don't think I've ever actually employed this rule before, in fact, I'm pretty sure I just made it up. But it felt like kismet or serendipity or some sort of cosmic nudge in my direction when in fact, 3 different versions of picadillo found me in such a short time span. It became quite apparent that I was supposed to make this. Truth be told, I was intrigued the very first time it came my way.
Firstly, there was this one from Food and Wine, then this one from Serious Eats and then up popped this one from Sam Sifton of the NY Times. I also later came across a version of it for the Instant Pot, but I haven't tried that yet. Mostly I relied on Mr. Sifton for my version and made just a few minor changes, like some crushed red pepper for a little more spice, with maybe the most notable change being the addition of a few fried eggs on top. That's totally optional on your part but right now I'm putting an egg on just about everything around here. My chickens are laying like crazy and I'm having a hard time keeping up with production. I especially love these little colored eggs that my little banties lay...
They're about half the size of a regular egg and are kind've fun and delicious in applications such as this.
So basically what we're talking about with picadillo is Cuban comfort food at its finest and perhaps one of the most beautiful ways to perfume your kitchen with intoxicating aromas ever; with the added bonus that you also get to eat it. Not even kidding about how good this stuff smells... cinnamon, cloves, cumin, ground beef, chorizo, raisins, olives and a whole lot more. And as good as it smells as it's cooking, it tastes even better.
Picadillo is usually described as a traditional Cuban stew, and if you added some diced potatoes, as in the Serious Eats version, you could call it a hash. It's a little like marinara sauce in Italy... every family has their own version and there's no wrong way to make it. Except if you left out the olives or the raisins. Don't do that, OK? They're pretty much what defines picadillo and if you think you wouldn't like them in there, you must force yourself to try it. You owe it to yourself. There is no picadillo without them.
Every now and then we land on a dish that so perfectly balances all of the flavor notes... sweet, salty, sour, savory, that it becomes an instant favorite. I heartily encourage you to taste for yourself. Here's the recipe...
This is an amazingly fun and flavorful Cuban dish that's pretty much the epitome of comfort food. If you can't find dried chorizo (the cured Spanish version), go ahead and use the Mexican fresh sausage kind or whatever chorizo you can get your hands on. Either crumble it into the dish or dice it, but definitely add more than the 2 oz called for in the recipe. I used one link of chorizo sausage that was just over 4 oz. I might even add more next time. I added crushed red pepper flakes for a little spice, but leave them out or add more as you like. The fried eggs are totally optional, but we loved them. You could most definitely squirt some sriracha over the eggs for an even tastier finish.
Recipe adapted from the NY Times
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium-size yellow onions, peeled and chopped
2 ounces dried chorizo, diced (I used more)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 ½ pounds ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
⅔ cup raisins
⅔ cup pitted stuffed olives
optional: fried eggs for serving
Put the olive oil in a large, heavy pan set over a medium-high flame, and heat until it begins to shimmer. Add onions, chorizo and garlic, stir to combine and cook until the onions have started to soften, approximately 10 minutes.
Add the ground beef, and allow it to brown, crumbling the meat with a fork as it does. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Add tomatoes, vinegar, cinnamon, cumin, bay leaves, cloves and nutmeg and stir to combine. Lower the heat, and let the stew simmer, covered, for approximately 30 minutes.
Uncover the pan, and add the raisins and the olives. Allow the stew to cook for another 10 or 15 minutes, then serve, topped with fried eggs (optional) and accompanied by white rice (I used jasmine rice).