Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Easy Beef and Chickpea Picadillo

Picadillo is a traditional Cuban dish.  Like every Italian family has their recipe for tomato sauce, Cubans too have their peccadilloes about their picadillo.

It’s usually made with ground beef alone.  However, I only had about ½ a pound on hand so I decided to try something offshoot by making it with chickpeas to substitute for the rest of the beef.

If you want to make it with beef alone, skip the chickpeas and use 1 pound of ground beef.  If you are vegetarian, use an extra can of chickpeas (or maybe lentils) and have a meatless version of this Cuban classic.  If you do make a vegetarian version, please let me know how it turns out!

Traditional picadillo uses dark raisins.  I like currants and tend to use them often as a substitute for raisins. The interesting part of this dish is the pairing of the olives and currants.  The saltiness of the olives paired with the sweetness of the currants (or raisins) gives this dish its unique taste experience.

So crack open a beer and get your picadillo going!

Here's what you'll need for 4 people:
   8 ounces of extra lean ground beef
   1 can chickpeas (19 oz/540 ml), drained and rinsed 
   1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz/796 ml), NOT drained
   2 cups diced pepper
   1 cup diced onion
   3/4 C currants
   3/4 C sliced pimento filled green olives
   2 t ground cumin
   2 t dried oregano
   1 t granulated garlic
   2 T oil for sauteeing (I used olive oil but it doesn't matter)
   Cooked rice (I like basmati)
   Cilantro for garnish

In a saucepan over med-high heat,
sautee meat, peppers and onions for about  5 minutes.
I used a red and orange pepper.
You can use green if you like.
Add the drained chickpeas and tomatoes...
Add the currants, olives, oregano, cumin and garlic.
Mix well through.
Bring to a boil then reduce immediately to medium-low.
Cover tightly with lid .
Let simmer for about 15 minutes.
Most of the liquid will be absorbed.
Check for salt to taste.
Add a few grindings of black pepper.
Serve over hot rice.
Top with cilantro if desired.

Can't get to Cuba to have the real thing?
Then make picadillo tonight.
Sweet, salty, meaty with a hint of exotic spice.
Close your eyes and imagine you're enjoying this 
at a beach side restaurant in Havana!
Buen apetito!