Picadillo (Cuban Ground Beef Skillet Supper)

An easy fall supper, when the sun sets early and the evenings begin to cool. “Cuban” is a new cuisine for me. Until now, I’ve fixated on the “Cubano” – a wonderful pork and ham sandwich hot sandwich with pickles and mustard that I’ve found impossible to perfect at home, despite many tries. So I was most happy to discover that Picadillo goes together quickly with pantry ingredients. It’s homey comfort food.

Picadillo (Cuban Ground Beef Skillet Supper) ♥ KitchenParade.com, Cuban-style comfort food.

Whole Food, Fresh & Filling. Another Quick Supper, a Kitchen Parade Specialty. Budget Friendly. One-Pot Meal. Great for Meal Prep. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.


Picadillo Made the List!

Around the World in 365 Days with Beef Recipes.

That’s my life, thanks to a freezer full of beef.

Truth be told, last spring I probably snapped pictures of what was then a newborn calf anxious for its momma’s udder. It was raised in a small herd by dear friends on the farm next to a country place where we spend much outdoor time.

Truth be told, I ignore the ear tags, I don’t want to know which one’s slated for our freezer.

It’s a trick, working your way through so much beef.

First off, you stop ordering beef out because the meat you have at home is just too good – and besides a piece of fish is welcome change of pace.

For the longest time, I resisted.

“Too much beef,” I’d tell myself – for Kitchen Parade readers, yes, but also for our own health.

But then it hit me.

If my choice is between factory-farmed chicken and farm-raised, free-range, grass-fed, corn-finished beef, well then, I’ll take the beef, thank you.

Is it a devil’s pact? I don’t think so.

For you – that’s you, Kitchen Parade readers – it means I’m ever on the scout for easy beef recipes. This one was a real hit. I saw the recipe in the paper one morning and made it for dinner that night and on the regular ever since.

Variations abound for picadillo, this Latin dish – there's lots more information here on Wikipedia – but my recommendation for a western palate is to embrace the spices, currants and olives, they really make the difference.

Picadillo (Cuban Ground Beef Skillet Supper) ♥ KitchenParade.com, Cuban-style comfort food.

About This Recipe

WHAT IS PICADILLO? [pronounced pee-kuh-DEE-yo] You'll find skillets of picadillo across Latin countries, from Argentina to Cuba to El Salvador to Mexico and beyond, including the Phillipines. Like so many popular home-style dishes, picadillo ingredients vary from culture to culture and family to family.

WHAT'S IN PICADILLO? My version of Picadillo sticks with tradition. The distinctive ingredients are the ground beef; the vegetables (onion, poblano and especially tomato); the spices (cinnamon, cumin, smoked paprika and tiny pinches of nutmeg and clove); and most especially, a surprise combination of sweet dried currants (similar to but smaller and less sweet than raisins) and pimento-stuffed olives. Such a surprise, the currants and olives but wow, they really do work!

HOW TO SERVE PICADILLO Picadillo is a one-skillet meal, if you like, just move the skillet to the center of the table. It's traditional to serve picadillo with rice and beans. I especially like to plate a "picadillo bowl" in a shallow bowl with rice on the bottom, picadillo in the center, beans scattered around the outer edge. If I'm feelin' fancy, a picadillo bowl may be topped with diced fresh tomato and avocado, maybe a drizzle of sour cream. Picadillo may also be used as a filling for burritos, empanadas, enchiladas, tacos, tamales and tortas.

EVERYDAY FOOD Picadillo is perfect for a healthy weeknight meal, high in protein and low in carbs. It can be made ahead of time and then rewarmed to serve in minutes. The recipe makes about nine cups, a single cup is plenty for smaller appetites (in our home, that means "hers") and up to two cups for larger appetites ("his"). I hope you love this!

Picadillo (Cuban Ground Beef Skillet Supper) ♥ KitchenParade.com, Cuban-style comfort food.

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Picadillo (Cuban Ground Beef Skillet Supper) ♥ KitchenParade.com, Cuban-style comfort food.


Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 1-1/4 hours
Makes 9 cups
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced small
  • 1 poblano, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds (680g) ground beef (or elk or turkey or …)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds (680g, about 2 large) tomatoes, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon pimentón (Spanish paprika)
  • Pinch cloves
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup (80g) dried currants
  • 2/3 cup (100g) pimento-stuffed olives

In a heavy shallow skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmery on medium high. Add the onion, poblano and garlic as they’re prepped, stirring occasionally until the onion begins to turn golden. Season well with salt and pepper.

Break up the meat into pieces, add to the skillet and cook until brown. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the tomatoes, vinegar and spices. Cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes; about halfway through, taste and adjust the seasoning.

Uncover and stir in the currants and olives. Bring back to a simmer and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

TO SERVE Make something that can lap up the juices. White rice is traditional with picadillo but mashed potatoes or grits would do beautifully too. Macaroni? I won’t judge. Mac ‘n’ cheese? Swoon. (And I'm happy to recommend White Rice; Three Secrets for Rich & Creamy Mashed Potatoes; either Microwave Green Chili Cheese Grits or Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Grits; my signature Mac n Chicken, just skip the chicken.

MAKE-AHEAD If you like, cook up to a day ahead, then reheat before serving.

LEFTOVER REPORT Rewarms beautifully, I especially like to use up the leftovers in soft tacos with tomato and chopped lettuce or in Oaxaca Tlayuda (Mexican Flat Tacos) with caramelized onion and cabbage.

ALANNA’S TIPS Once the meat hits the skillet, don’t move it until it browns on that side. Then sure, turn the meat so it browns on another side. Don’t be afraid of a little “burn” on the meat, it’s that dark and ever-so-tasty crust that forms on the outside of the meat. If tomatoes aren’t in season, use a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes or two 15-ounce cans.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See https://www.kitchenparade.com/2015/10/picadillo-cuban-ground-beef-skillet.html .
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup: 214 Calories; 10g Tot Fat; 4g Sat Fat; 49mg Cholesterol; 228mg Sodium; 13g Carb; 3g Fiber; 9g Sugar; 17g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS (blue & purple assume ground turkey) Old Points 5 & PointsPlus 6 & SmartPoints 7 & Freestyle 3 & myWW green 6 & blue 3 & purple 3 & future WW points CALORIE COUNTERS 100-Calorie Serving = scant half cup.
Adapted from Sam Sifton’s column in the Sunday New York Times in 2014.

Seasonal Cooking: Mid Autumn Across the Years

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.