Cuban Picadillo with Sauteed Almonds
*Photos and Content Updated July 2012*
Inspiration: I’m always so fascinated by what people in other parts of the world are eating. I love hearing about dishes from other regions, and I love giving them a try myself. Even if the recipes that I make aren’t completely authentic, they’re still exposure to foods that I wouldn’t normally have the chance to eat, which I think is pretty awesome.
What We Loved: This dish caught me completely off guard. I love ground beef, so I always thought that Cuban picadillo looked tasty, but for some reason I was expecting it to be a bit on the bland side. Boy, was I wrong. With my first bite, I made a remark to Brandon that I couldn’t believe how complex the picadillo tasted. There was just a bit of sweetness from the cinnamon and cloves, a bit of sour from the olives, and a bit of savory from the grass-fed beef, garlic, and tomato paste. Everything combined for a really great, complex flavor that I really wasn’t expecting. Brandon thought that it reminded him a little bit of an Indian meal, with all of the different spices that were in there. And the almonds on top added even more flavor and crunch. What a great dish.
Tips: Don’t be shy with the spices, particularly the cinnamon, which is really important to the overall flavor of the dish. When combined, I think that all of the spices add a lot of complexity to the dish and give it its characteristic flavor, so I would suggest tasting as you go and adding as much of all of the spices as you’d like.
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano, or more to preference
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or more to preference
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, or more to preference
1 bay leaf
3 oz tomato paste
1 cup hot water
12 pimiento-stuffed green olives, sliced
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1. Brown the beef in a saute pan until cooked through.
2. Add the garlic, oregano, salt, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, tomato paste, and water. Mix well, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. If the mixture is too dry and there really isn’t much to simmer, add a touch more water.
3. Add the olives, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat and add the almonds. Stir to combine and serve.