What is picadillo you ask? I learned about this Cuban dish while living in the Tampa, Florida area. It is a tomato meat sauce with green olives and golden raisins. At first I thought those two ingredients in this meat dish sounded weird but they work. Picadillo is usually served with yellow rice and black beans.
My twist on this traditional dish is to stuff the yellow rice and picadillo in a bell pepper. This dish is easy to make. It just needs time to develop in flavor.
Cut the tops off of 2 bell peppers (this recipe serves 3 so another bell pepper can be prepped) and reserve. Remove the core and seeds and discard.
Place the hollowed out bell peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Rub some olive oil on the outside and inside of the bell peppers. Sprinkle some salt on the peppers. Bake on 375 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
Dice the bell pepper tops and measure out 1/3 cup. Place the remaining in a zip top bag for another recipe.
Dice 1/2 cup yellow onion and finely chop 2 garlic cloves.
Cook 1 1/4 lbs. ground beef or venison in a medium saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat until browned. Spoon out fat and discard. Transfer the cooked ground meat on to a plate.
Add 1 teaspoon olive oil to the pan. Heat over medium heat. Add the diced onion and bell pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the ground meat to the skillet. Add 2 cups tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon tomato paste. Stir to combine.
Tip: Buy tomato paste in a tube. It is cook friendly and you will always have tomato paste ready to use.
Add 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper. Stir. Cover and cook for 30 minutes on low.
I don’t have a lid for my skillet so I use a piece of aluminum foil.
Add 3 tablespoons sliced Spanish olives and 2 tablespoons golden raisins.
Cover and cook another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the picadillo is cooking, prepare yellow rice according to package directions.
Spoon about 1/2 cup yellow rice in baked bell pepper. Spoon picadillo over the top. One of my favorite ways I have had picadillo was with a crunchy potato strip topping. I made mine by grating a potato and placing the grated potato between paper towel to remove excess liquid. Toss the grated potato in flour. Heat a little canola oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Shake off excess flour and add the grated potato to the oil. Fry until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towel lined plate. Garnish the top of the picadillo with the fried potato strips.
Serves 2 with leftovers or serves 3.
P.S. the picadillo could be prepared in a crockpot on low for about 4 hours. Bake the bell peppers in advance, refrigerate and warm in the microwave when ready to assemble.