Cooking a Cuban recipe for the 1st time

Spoiler alert: It was easier than expected

Tiffany Browne's Picadillo, a traditional Cuban dish. (WKMG)

ORLANDO, Fla. – I feel like we have all been there—stuck in a dinner rut, making the same four or five meals over and over again.

For me, it’s spaghetti, tacos and fish. They are my go-to when I am lacking in dinner-time creativity.

I know I need to expand my list, so this Hispanic Heritage Month I challenged myself to try a new dish.

News 6 Senior Executive Producer of News and Special Projects Angel Blazquez had just what I needed: a recipe for Picadillo.

The recipe sat for nearly a month in my inbox. To be honest, I was a little nervous to get started. But let me tell you, I am glad I did.

It ended up being an easy meal to make, packed with flavor and under $30.

Tiffany Browne's Picadillo prep. (WKMG)

Here’s what you need:

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup diced onion

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 4 teaspoons)

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 can of Veg-All

Salt and black pepper

One 15-ounce can diced canned tomatoes, fire roasted if you can find them

1/2 cup green olives

2 tablespoons capers

Here’s how you make it:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.

Add the ground beef and cook over medium heat breaking up with a fork until crumbled.

Cook the ground beef until browned and no longer pink in the center.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ground beef to a bowl and set aside.

Drain off all but two tablespoons of fat and add the onion to the pan.

Cook the onion for 4 to 5 minutes or until softened.

Add the bell pepper and cook for 2 more minutes.

Stir in the garlic, cumin, and oregano. Cook for an additional minute.

Add the tomato paste, can of Veg-all and can of diced tomatoes, stirring to combine. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tomato paste begins to deepen in color.

Add the ground beef back to the pan cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the green olives and capers.

Cover, reduce heat and cook approximately 12 minutes.

Uncover and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with white rice.

Here’s how mine turned out:

Tiffany Browne's Picadillo, a traditional Cuban dish. (WKMG)

I ended up adjusting a few things, based on the ingredients I had at home, which Angel said was absolutely fine. As he says, each person’s picadillo is a little different, which I can appreciate because the grocery delivery service didn’t bring my cumin or tomato paste and there was no fresh garlic available, so I used tomato sauce and minced garlic from a jar instead.

I also couldn’t find Veg-All so I ended up using frozen mixed vegetables instead. I also added some Adobo.

Picadillo, a classic Cuban recipe. (WKMG)

In the end, it was a quick, delicious meal, with some leftovers worthy of packing for lunch the next day.

I’m also feeling a bit more inspired to add green olives and capers to other meals moving forward. Now, I just have to get started on dessert and try Angel’s tres leches recipe. I’m excited to see how it turns out.

About the Author:

Tiffany produces the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m., Florida's Fourth Estate and Talk to Tom.