Do you remember TBS’s Dinner and A Movie Night on Friday nights? During each commercial break hosts Paul and Janet and their resident chef would prep and cook a dish that thematically went along with the movie being aired (prime example-Russell’s Mussels for the movie Gladiator). Silly banter, fun factoids about the movie and cooking tips plus a movie…pretty nifty? Fast forward a lot of years-babies, kids, teens, gray hair, thinning hair, expanding waistlines, empty-nest and our Monday mom’s coffee klatch has resurrected Friday night Dinner and a Movie.
We started with Big Little Lies, best described as the Housewives of Monterey gone batsh*t crazy and moved on to The Handmaid’s Tale. Based on Margaret Atwood’s book it takes intensity and darkness to a new level. Luckily cocktails and dinner after each airing helps lighten the mood. A combination of factors including work and not being able to stomach a dystopian world (it hits a little too close to real life) I show up, along with the hubbies, just in time to enjoy drinks, dinner and conversation. I rationalize my absence from watching with the feeble excuse “I read the book once upon a time”.
Dinners are potluck and lucky for me Stephanie brought one of her favorite dishes, Picadillo. Its roots are Latin, regional versions can be found from Mexico to Cuba. It’s a delicious mixture of ground beef, sautéed with tomatoes, seasoned with bay leaves and raised to flavor-town by, drum roll please, olives and raisins. The briny tartness from the olives and that little pop of sweetness from the raisins makes this dish a stand out.
Mind blown…never dreamed I would be enamored with a savory dish that included raisins and olives. Not only is it delicious it is also easy to prepare. Served with steamed coconut or brown rice and fried plantains this is a simple, beautiful meal.
Stephanie’s recipe is adapted from Cooking Light that includes generous amounts of finely diced carrots and bell peppers not always found in traditional Picadillo. Think of this as Picadillo Light. The dish can be lightened even more by substituting ground turkey or chicken for part of the beef (I would definitely keep it at least 50% beef though).
I perused other recipes for Picadillo and found some included other spices including cumin, oregano, cinnamon, chili, and cloves. I enjoy the simplicity and the clean bright flavors of Steph’s recipe but I love cumin and cinnamon. Next time.
- 2 pounds ground beef or a combination of ground beef and turkey or chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion or 1 medium onion diced
- 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) diced yellow bell pepper
- 1 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) diced red bell pepper
- (Peppers can also be left in thin strips)
- 1 cup finely chopped carrot (2-3 carrots)
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed manzanilla or green olives (about 15 olives)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- *optional add 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- Cook beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned; stir to crumble. Remove from pan; drain well.
- Add oil to pan. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes.
- Add bell peppers and carrot; sauté 3 minutes.
- Return beef to pan. Stir in raisins and remaining ingredients*, bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves.
- Serve with brown rice or coconut rice and plantains