A healthy picadillo with the vibrant flavors of Cuba – garlic, onion, bell pepper, oregano, cumin, and bay – in a healthy, well-balanced dish… Healthy Picadillo (Cuban Style) can be on your dinner table in 30 minutes!
Te voy a hacer picadillo!
(I am going to turn you into mincemeat!)
~~ Spanish saying
Picadillo refers to a hash of (typically) minced (ground) beef and vegetables. I consider it to be a “comfort food” type of dish. It is not particularly fancy or difficult to make, but is flavorful, filling, and inexpensive to make. Garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay find their way into most Cuban dishes. A sofrito is a frequent addition to many Cuban dishes; it most likely consists of bell pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, and black pepper sautéed in oil until the onion and garlic are soft and translucent.
I have made a variation of this dish for at least 15 years. I learned in my twenties the value of “colorful cooking” as part of a healthy diet. Check out the colors on this plate! I’d say it’s pretty healthy. 😉 I came across the Cooking Light recipe for Healthy Picadillo back in the day when I still subscribed to print magazines, and the recipe became a family favorite. I have made it with lean ground beef, ground turkey, ground pork, and most recently, with ground chicken thighs. I spotted in-house ground chicken thighs at my local natural foods market recently, and had to try it. While I enjoy chicken breast when properly cooked, I always prefer the flavor and moistness of the thigh meat. I was really pleased with the flavor and texture in my Healthy Picadillo.
I stay fairly true to the original recipe, but usually substitute currants for the golden raisins, and vary the ground meat. I love to add 3 to 4 jalapeño chiles, but they’re optional and not at all authentic! Matchstick carrots are a great time saver, and I have gotten to where I keep a bag of them in my refrigerator. The leftovers make a great lunch the next day, or freeze beautifully for another meal at a later date.
With a pot of rice, this makes a very well-balanced one-dish meal. We love it with a dry, crisp rosé (Spanish is perfect). Liven up your weeknight menu with my Healthy Picadillo (Cuban-Style)… You’ll be glad you did!
Healthy Picadillo (Cuban Style)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 pounds ground chicken (see notes)
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 bell peppers diced
- 1 cup carrots matchstick or finely diced see notes
- 1 cup dry white wine or 1/2 cup dry sherry
- 1/2 cup Spanish olives stuffed with pimento sliced
- 3/4 cup currants raisins, or golden raisins
- 2 bay leaves fresh if possible
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with liquid (see notes)
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- several grinds black pepper
- Add olive oil to a heavy dutch oven, and heat over medium-high heat. Add ground meat. Begin to break it apart (I like my potato masher for this). When meat begins to brown add onion and garlic. When meat is completely cooked, and onion is soft, continue.
- Add the bell peppers and carrots. Saute them about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, but stir occasionally.
- Simmer until vegetables are tender - about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaves and check for seasoning.
- Enjoy over plain rice or rice and black beans.
As mentioned in the post, I have done this with ground sirloin, turkey, pork, and chicken. The choice is yours...
Matchstick carrots are widely available in markets now, and they're a huge time saver for both prep and cooking time. I hate getting crunchy carrots in a dish like this, so I always use them. A fine dice works too, but be sure to check that they are tender.
Use your preferred diced or stewed tomatoes. I love Pomi petite diced tomatoes in their juice found in the Italian section in a carton. As I mentioned, I usually use currants, but the original recipe calls for golden raisins. I have also used regular raisins and even craisins.
Jalapenos are optional, but I like a little heat in this. You can also use a dash of your favorite pepper sauce, or a little crushed red pepper.
Macronutrients from Cooking Light: 280 calories; 26 g protein; 24 g carbohydrates; 9 g fat