Yummy Tuesday: Cuban Picadillo


I’m not fluent in Spanish, but I am in Cuban food, and I am pretty sure that “Picadillo” translates to “Food of the Gods” (roughly, anyway).

Others call it “Cuban Beef Hash,” but others ought to stick to something that sounds more appetizing than “Cuban Beef Hash.”

It’s basically ground beef with some spices, green bell pepper, garlic, tomato, and pimento stuffed olives, served over rice (noticeably absent from the pic above, but the cute tablecloth makes up for it) and with black beans. It’s very easy to make and a satisfying, filling dish.

Here, try it:

Cuban Picadillo

(4 to 6 servings)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup can crushed tomatoes
1 T. salt (to taste)
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives (may be cut in half, drained)

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, saute the onions, pepper, and garlic. Cook stirring for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add the beef and cook, stirring until brown (10-15 minutes). Use a wooden spoon to break up any large pieces. Drain any excess fat.

2. Add the tomatoes and salt and stir until combined. Cook uncovered over medium heat for another 15 or 20 minutes or so, then stir in the olives (which Rolando cuts up, rather than leaving whole). Serve over white rice and with black beans.

And while homemade tostones (fried plantains) are a lot more delicious than store-bought, Goya does sell frozen tostones and maduros (ripe plantains), which are pretty darn good. Plantains – ripe or sweet or both – are staple side dishes. Did I mention that Cubans aren’t really into vegetables? Yeah, not really part of their vocabulary.

I can’t take credit for the above photo, as the chief dinner-cooker is actually in Cuba and not home, cooking me this delicious dinner. The photo is courtesy of bitchincamero (who shares a similar recipe). If you’re interested in trying other Cuban food and you don’t have a Cuban grandmother or a nice Cuban husband to make it for you, Memories of a Cuban Kitchen is a good cookbook.

I mentioned I would share a few more photos from our 2000 trip to Cuba, so here are three:


This is the house where my father-in-law lived (in the leafy Vedado neighborhood of Havana) until he was 12, when his family decided to leave Cuba. They left in 1961 and spent a brief few months in Miami before eventually settling in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Rolando’s great uncle (his grandmother’s brother) stayed in Cuba to work for the government, and still lives there. We visited him in 2000, and we were the first of his extended family he’d seen in 40 years.


(A lot of our photos from that trip are black and white). This is the Casa de Cultura in central Havana, where we took dance and music lessons for two weeks. What I loved about Havana, and this building is no exception, are the ornate details all around, like beautifully painted tile sidewalks and intricate marble architectural details hiding under layers of grime, or neglected for lack of resources for the last 60 years.


This is the former presidential palace, which is now the Museo de la Revolución. In the back, encased in a big glass building, is the Granma, the yacht that Fidel and fellow fighters used to sail from Mexico to Cuba to launch their revolution. Inside, you can see machine gun bullet pockmarks in the marble walls from a failed attempt on former president Fulgencia Batista’s life, along with lots of artifacts (guns, photos, bloody uniforms) from the revolution.

I’ve made Rolando promise that he would take a ton of photos on this trip. I wonder if much has changed in the 9 years since we first visited.

1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    […] there, staying with them, and plans to go back next year. I wrote about it a little bit here and here, in case you want to see a handful of photos and try a yummy Cuban Picadillo […]

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