David, the fellow who cuts my hair, and his partner Jason traveled to Cuba as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the Vinceremos Brigade. They had very full days beginning with early morning field work, meetings with Cuban dignitaries, long bus rides, and evening parties with music, dancing, and rum. I asked about the food, of course. Not a great report: meal after meal of rice and beans and very plain chicken. So I began to think about what a really wonderful simple Cuban meal might taste like and this is what I imagined.
1½ pounds lean ground beef (or a combination of ground beef and pork)
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons oil
2 fresh tomatoes or 4 fresh Romas, seeded and chopped, see seeding instructions if you need them
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder (molido, ancho, or passila)
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup raisins
¼ cup slivered green olives
½ cup slivered blanched almonds
A mix of chopped parsley, cilantro, and green onions, optional
Corn or flour tortillas, warmed in the oven or microwave
Sour cream, optional
1. In a sauté pan or pottery skillet cook the onions in the oil until translucent and soft. Add the meat and cook until done. If you are using the pottery skillet, keep the heat on medium to prevent cracking. This process will take longer.
2. Add all the remaining ingredients except the almonds. Bring to a simmer and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
3. Stir in the almonds. Place in a serving bowl or bring the pottery skillet to the table and sprinkle with the optional parsley, cilantro, and green onions.
Adapted from Elena Zelayeta’s Elena’s Secrets of Mexican Cooking
This salad is so refreshing with the Picadillo. You'll love it.
Ensalada criolla (Creole Salad) with Vinagreta Cubana