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Ah, Picadillo, (pronounced Pee-Ka-Deeyo).
This Cuban staple is a hearty dinner or lunch option full of flavor, but not of fat. My version features a tomato laced sauce that permeates the lean ground turkey in place of the traditional fat/grease laden ground pork chorizo and 80/20% fat ground chuck. Briny green olives and fragrant capers are balanced by touches of tart golden berries or raisins. This easy to make, one pan meal will quickly become a family favorite. Serve with a side of Quick and Easy Cuban Style Black Beans (from canned) and dinner is done!
If you’ve never had Picadillo before, let me tell you that you are missing out. Although it may look like sloppy joe filling, it couldn’t be any more different. Although it features salty ingredients like green olives and capers, the remaining components are more about their flavor than sodium content. Aromatics like onion, garlic, and bay leaf are so important in this dish’s ability to penetrate typically bland ground turkey. Using beef broth gives a meaty, umami flavor to lean meat, keeping flavor while losing the fat. Smokey cumin, although maybe counter-intuitive, is complimented by sweet nutmeg and spicy cinnamon. If you’ve never used these typically considered baking spices in savory cooking, you are in for a treat!
Don’t usually cook with capers or green olives? Afraid they’ll go to waist? Use them up with:
Yes, you can make this ahead! I often make it on a Sunday to have it ready for Monday nights dinner. Its sort of like pasta in that it gets better a day or so later. My husband even hoards the leftovers for his lunch the next day. You can reheat it in the microwave, or better yet in a non-stick pan with a little olive oil over medium low heat. Easy!
I’ve never see sub sandwiches at Cuban restaurants…
Picadillo is traditionally served over white rice. Filling a soft sub roll with the quick stewed turkey mixture and finishing it with avocado and sharp provolone cheese just kicks it up a notch. This produces a heartier meal. Providing adequate calories at each evening is something I keep in mind when coming up with dinner ideas for myself and my husband who walks 5-7 miles a day during his hospital shifts. These fit the bill. The same could go for growing kids playing soccer and eating parents out of house and home.
I need a side dish.
Once in the pan, this meal is finished in about 30 mins. Other than the occasional stir, it doesn’t need much in that time. While it’s cooking down, you can quickly whip up a fiber rich bowl of Quick and Easy Cuban Style Black Beans (from canned!). Add in a a colorful, veggie-filled salad (or even easier, toss some pre-shredded cabbage slaw with EVOO & Red Wine vinegar and and a touch of S+P to save yourself the chopping) and you’ve got an easy, but impressive weeknight dinner.
What are Golden Berries?
They are not raisins. Let me start by stating, I emphatically despise raisins. I don’t have some childhood story where I was forced to eat raisin-covered-raisins, or any other odd dish dotted with the dried fruit. To be honest, my mother rarely bought them. I just don’t care for the dried grapes. So much so, I only buy carrot cake at bakeries if they can swear it doesn’t contain the pesky little mush-balls.
Given that, I found a superb substitute in the Incan super-fruit known as golden berries. (They are also referred to as Inca Berries.) Despite being filthy rich in antioxidants, they have a perfectly sweet-tart flavor combination. Numerous other health benefits pack into these dried fruit purses that look like raisins. However, looks can be deceiving. They are covered in a much thicker skin making them ideal for dishes requiring a long simmer. The berries won’t fall apart, but will still soften in the sauce. I can’t recommend these little things enough. I buy them on Amazon through their “subscribe and save” program and use them mostly in savory recipes. But, they’re wonderful baked into quick breads or just a handful alone as a midday snack.
Read more about my take on these delectable berries here:
Low Fat & Healthy; (Turkey) Picadillo Sandwiches
Makes 4 Servings
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 3/4 cup yellow onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1/3 cup golden berries, sliced in half (substitute raisins)
- 1/3 cup sliced green olives
- 3 tbsp capers
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- 4 slices sharp provolone cheese
- 4 hoagie rolls or bolillos
- Over medium heat, warm 1 tsp of olive oil, or your favorite cooking oil. Sautée onion and garlic for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly because the garlic will burn easily. Add in the turkey and break up with your spatula. Cook until all of it is browned and almost no pink is left.
- Add in the tomato paste, and next 8 ingredients (through black pepper). Stir to combine. Add in the bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low.
- Cook 20 mins stirring occasionally. After those 20 mins, remove the lid and continue to cook uncovered for 10 more mins, stirring occasionally.
- Turn off heat and stir in the 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar.
- Lay 1 slice of cheese in each roll and divide the Picadillo among them. Layer 1/4 of the avocado on each and enjoy!