Cuban Picadillo

Here in Florida there's large Cuban population and many Cuban restaurants, especially in in the south of the state.  After a date night out at our favorite local Cuban place, I was inspired to attempt the cuisine at home.

Picadillo is one of my favorite Cuban meals because of it's unusual flavor combinations. While other variations can be found throughout Latin America, this Cuban picadillo features the flavors of green olives, raisins, cumin, and of course, sofrito.  Sofrito is a mixture of tomato sauce, garlic, onions and peppers, and it is traditionally used as a base in many Cuban and Latin American meals.  You can buy it prepared (frozen or canned) if you live in certain areas, or you can make it yourself at home.  I like to keep things low-sodium and additive-free as possible, so I made my own.  Plus, it's just more fun that way. :)  This is something that you can make in a large batch when the ingredients go on sale and keep in the freezer for future use.  Mojo marinade is a staple in Latin American cooking, and should be available in the ethnic section of your grocery store.

*Tip*  Make the sofrito ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours or over night. This will bring out the flavors more and mean less work for you when it's time to make dinner!

Serve with black beans and rice for a complete meal!

1 Tbs EVOO
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 4 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water

1 package lean ground beef (about 1.5 lbs)
1/4 cup mojo (cut back on this if you're watching your sodium intake)
1 cup raisins
1 8 oz. jar of green olives with pinentos, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano

1. Heat the olive oil in a deep pan and add the onion, peppers, and garlic. Saute over med-low heat until the onions are translucent and tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk the tomato sauce and water together and add to the pan. Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and and set aside. (or refrigerate/freeze for future use)

2. Combine the mojo and ground beef in a deep pan and cook until the pink is gone. Drain the excess fat.

3. Pour the sofrito over the beef and add olives, raisins, cumin, oregano and bay leaf. Combine well, cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.