Not My Abuela’s Picadillo (Well it is my Abuela’s Picadillo but some millenial modifications)

Growing up Cuban in Miami is magical.  My parents both had to work all the time, and so when I was little I spent every day at my Yaya’s (Abuela’s) house. Things you must know about my Yaya, she had 9 kids and almost no money when they got here from Cuba so she had to find a way to make a ton of food and make it delicious and she basically rocked it. I had 7 of my cousins with me each day, and she would put us to work in the kitchen showing us how things got done.  We were basically a croquetta assembly line.   She passed away almost 8 years ago today and I feel closest to her when I cook.  Especially when I cook Cuban.  I think of her even more when I make my healthy modifications because let’s face it Cuban food while delicious, is fatteningaf, and I can almost hear her telling me how ridiculous I am.  So here it is Yaya, I kept her basic framework and made my small twists and I will let you know WYWD (What Yaya Would Do) as we go along.

  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 potato chopped into small squares
  • 1 green pepper finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey (depending on your preference)
  • ½ cup of tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup pimento stuffed Spanish olives with 1 tablespoon brine from jar
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 425 and take your chopped potatoes spread them out on a baking sheet and drizzle with one teaspoon of oil.  Mix it up and throw it in the oven to bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden making sure to stir them about half way through. WWYD: she would fry the hell out of those potatoes in a deep fryer or a pot of oil (definitely more delicious but not as heart or waist friendly).  While those are baking heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, green and red peppers and saute until onion is soft, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes and then add in the garlic.  Add most of the tomato sauce and stir in with all the vegetables for about a minute.

Add ground beef or turkey to skillet and cook until browned. You can finish adding the tomato sauce if you feel it needs it, and add in your salt and pepper to taste, as well as the garlic and onion powder and stir for another minute. Then add the, pimento stuffed Spanish olives, raisins, dried oregano, and cumin.  Take the potatoes out of the oven and throw them in once they are ready.  Mix well and begin to simmer over low heat for another 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper if you feel it needs.  Boom!

Serve warm:

WWYD: Over white rice with fried plantains or black beans

Things that would make Yaya turn in her grave: Over cauliflower rice

Yaya and I would agree that adding one fried egg on top is never a bad idea

To make Picadillo soupier for serving over rice,  you can add chicken or beef stock.

Leftovers Plan: you can throw it into empanadas and freeze


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