Monday, July 21, 2008

Picadillo Salteado Con Papas (Cuban Beef Hash)

This is my grandmothers recipe for Picadillo (Even though she is Madrileña she lived in Cuba many years and married a Gallego hijo de Español born in Cuba).


Picadillo recipes are debatable, some Cubans add raisins some don't but atleast we can agree it's still Cuban.

SUPER SAVORY no raisins (because we don't like sweetness in it but some do)

-1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef about 85% lean 15% fat (you don't want greasy Picadillo, or you'll have to take alot of grease out when it releases grease later)
-1/2 green bell pepper finely minced
-1/2 onion finely minced
-4 cloves of garlic crushed and minced (I use a mortar and a pestle to crush to a paste with some salt or a garlic press)
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 can 8 oz tomato sauce
-8 oz of water (about a cup) or 12 oz. depends
-salt to taste (be careful the olives and capers are very salty and theres already salt if you crushed the garlic with a mortar)
-extra-virgin olive oil (to sautee)
-3-4 medium or small brown potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes rinsed in running water or put in a bowl of water then drained very well prior to deep-frying
-Oil (I use Canola Oil it leaves a clean crisp taste) to deep-fry/ pan-fry the potatoes

Optional Ingredients:
-1/2 cup (about 12) spanish olives stuffed with pimientos sliced (optional)
-1/4 cup capers drained (optional)
(1)Heat Oil to deep-fry on medium high until it is hot enough, to check if it is hot enough test it by dipping a wooden spoon if it sizzles/ bubbles around it it is ready takes about 5-10 minutes to heat up.

(2)Add cubed rinsed and drained potatoes to deep-fry until golden brown then drain and set aside on a plate with paper towels (they take about 15 minutes to cook well while they are frying start doing the rest of the stuff)
(3)Heat olive oil in a pan on medium high, sautee onions and bell peppers until fragrant and translucent then add garlic and sautee a bit dont let it brown.

(4)Add ground beef and spread it around, let it cook a bit and break it up so it doesnt clump, destroy the large clumps by breaking it up. When it starts releasing some grease heat the pan to high and don't disturb it let it brown a little and then break up any clumbs and sautee well.

(4)Add tomato sauce, some water and bring to a boil stir a bit, season with cumin, add capers and olives cook uncovered 5 minutes. Then taste it to see if it needs more salt maybe a teaspoon or something if necessary. (I always put the amount of salt Im gonna use on my hand before I throw it in it prevents me from over salting be careful once you add to much salt you can't take it away) TURN STOVE OFF

(5)Now fold in deep-fried potato cubes until well mixed, cover until ready to serve

Frijoles Negros de mi Tata (Grandmas Cuban Black Beans)

Now these are a HUGE STAPLE I can't live without black beans or other heavy Cuban and Spanish bean based stews. The black beans are the one's most consumed in my household.

This is how my grandma makes them and it makes a delicious simple Cuban black bean soup/ stew. It is not suppose to be thin it is a thick rich bean dish.

Now many Cubans have their own way and secret for making it, and every family has their own "family recipe" my grandmother's is simple, straight forward and delicious. A fragrant sofrito cooked in generous amounts of olive oil, and a kiss of cumin is how grandma always used to make them. Doesn't get more simple and authentic than this.

However I will say I have my own recipe for Cuban black beans that I'll share in the future :)

-2 cups Black Beans (the fresher the better)
-water enough to submerge beans 1 1/2 - 2 inches
-1/2 larg bell pepper finely minced (I use green)
-1 medium or 1/2 large onion finely minced
-4 cloves of garlic finely minced or through a garlic press
-extra-virgin olive oil
-1-2 teaspoons salt or to taste
-1 teaspoons ground cumin

(1) In a medium to large pot rinse and clean black beans and drain.

(2) Add water

(3) Bring to a boil and cover and simmer on low for atleast 1 hour (mine are usually tender in 1 hour, to check take out 1 bean and crush it with your fingers or something if it breaks or feels soft its done, it can take longer for some people if yours take longer that's ok it may take 2 hours for some people) Now cover and leave on really low heat while you do the rest

(4) Heat oil on medium high, sautee onions and bell peppers until translucent and fragrant, add garlic and sautee until garlic is fragrant (DON'T BURN THE GARLIC OUR YOU'LL HAVE TO START OVER)

(5) Add the sautee "sofrito" to the beans, cumin and salt. Stir, cover and simmer 10-20 minutes to infuse.

(6) Taste it to adjust seasoning if it needs more salt or not. To thicken broth mash some beans by pressing and crushing them with a wooden spoon and stir until it reaches the consistency you like, or you can take out some beans with the broth, blend it and add it back.

(7) Turn off heat.

Arroz Blanco (White Rice the Cuban Way)

Some might be surprised others not, but rice is a STAPLE of the Cuban diet and cuisine. Rice is prepared in many different ways and is a must have to accompany most large Cuban dinner/ meals or other Cuban meat dishes and legume based dishes.

Cubans typically use long-grain white rice, we don't add as much water as some people do and don't like our white rice to be wet and sticky like plaster.

Also we like our rice to shine haha and have a hint of flavor. We steam it with a bit of salt and some olive oil. (some Cubans use Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for the rice, some like to use the oil that has been re-used alot and has the flavor of everything thats been fried in it. And more rarely some like to infuse the oil with garlic or add some garlic while the rice steams.)

This is how my grandmother makes it.

-2 cups long-grain white rice (I use Mahatma brand)
-3 cups water
-1 teaspoon salt
-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-2 cloves peeled garlic whole (optional)

(1)Put rice in rice cooking bowl and swirl your hands while the stream of water from the sink fills up the rice cooker bowl. Swirl and move around constantly to get rid of excess starch.

(2)When it is nearly full to the top of water, drain it completely.

(3)Now add 3 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Swirl around. Add 2 whole garlic cloves (garlic is optional my grandmother never added it, but I like it that way it gives it oomph)

(4)Close and push the botton that cooks rice on the rice cooker and wait for it to beep, when it is done fluff hte rice BUT BE GENTLE DONT CRUSH IT! And your done.

PLEASE NOTE: The general rule for making the perfect Cuban style white rice is that for every 1 cup of rice you use 1 1/2 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 clove garlic peeled whole.

WHen I see the instructions on American rice bags and such that use DOUBLE THE AMOUNT OF LIQUID TO RICE I AM HORRIFIED IT PRODUCES REALLY STICKY RICE!