Growing up, my Mom always made us Picadillo, but it was a soup. It had ground beef and potatoes swimming in a tasty broth and it was absolutely delicious. So the first time I went to a Cuban restaurant and saw Picadillo on the menu, I was very surprised to learn that their version was not a soup at all! It was completely different, but equally delicious. Served with white rice, black beans, tostones (fried plaintains) and mojo (garlic sauce), it was different and to die for. I asked a couple of my Cuban friends at work what spices go into Picadillo and was surprised to learn that both of them put cumin and cinnamon in it! Well, cumin wasn’t surprising, but I only ever use cinnamon in sweet stuff like pies and desserts. So… here’s my attempt to recreate the Picadillo I had at the Cuban restaurant. I think it turned out pretty darn good!
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 tsp. salt (add more or less, to your taste)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut in cubes
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 small can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 cup pimento stuffed olives, sliced
2/3 cup raisins
Heat olive oil in a large, heavy pan set over medium high heat.
Saute onions and garlic for about 2 minutes, then add ground beef.
Season with salt and pepper, and cook until beef is browned through.
Stir in green bell pepper, diced tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, vinegar, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, and bay leaf.
Lower heat and let simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in olives and raisins and let simmer for another 8-10 minutes more.
It’s Super Bowl Sunday again. I saw Valerie Bertinelli make Italian Beef sandwiches on TV last week and decided that that’s what I wanted to do for our Super Bowl Sunday lunch. She made her sandwiches with a giardiniera aioli but I don’t particularly care for giardiniera. At least not the ones I’ve tried so far. I do think these sandwiches would be great with a garlic aioli though.
One thing she did do was serve her sandwiches with coleslaw and that was definitely the way to go as far as I’m concerned. Delicious! The coleslaw added a sweet crunch to the tender, savory beef that made it the perfect well-rounded meal.
ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES WITH COLESLAW
Make Italian Beef the Night Before:
4 lbs. boneless beef chuck or rump roast, cut into large chunks
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 can (15 ozs.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 packet Italian salad dressing mix
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
Combine all ingredients together in slow cooker.
Cook on low setting for 10-14 hours.
Skim some of the excess fat from the surface using a ladle or cooking spoon.
Shred the beef coarsely with two forks.
4 loaves (12-14 inches each) Italian or French bread
Italian Beef, warm or at room temperature
coleslaw, ready-made or make your own (recipe here)
Cut each loaf of bread into 4 to 6-inch lengths depending on how big you want your sandwiches.
Split each sandwich in half lengthwise and toast lightly.
Fill sandwiches with the shredded beef.
Top beef with coleslaw.
NOTE: Serve sliced pepperoncinis on the side for those who might want them.
You can also top the beef with a slice of mozzarella or provolone cheese before piling on the coleslaw, if desired.
Beef and Broccoli is a Chinese-American creation. I don’t actually know if they serve this dish in China, but you can certainly find it in every Chinese restaurant in America. It’s one of the more popular dishes. My kids absolutely love it. We never go to a Chinese restaurant without getting at least one order of Beef and Broccoli.
I took a Chinese cooking class many years ago before I was even married. This recipe is an adaptation of the recipe we learned in class. I’ve tweaked it over the years and made some changes to the original (no offense to my cooking teacher). I still don’t think it tastes quite like what you get in a Chinese restaurant, but it’s yummy and hits the spot when you can’t get down the hill to Debbie Wong’s.
BEEF AND BROCCOLI STIR FRY
1 lb. beef, like flank steak, boneless ribs, top sirloin, or tri-tip
1½ lbs. broccoli florets
⅓ cup oyster sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
⅓ cup rice wine
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. grated ginger
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 clove garlic, minced
Slice beef into strips.
In a bowl, whisk together oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, and cornstarch.
Place sliced beef into marinade and allow to marinate for 15 minutes to an hour.
Heat a little oil in a wok and stir fry garlic quickly.
Add broccoli and stir fry until broccoli turns bright green.
Remove from pan and set aside.
Add a little more oil to wok.
When hot, remove beef from marinade, put into wok, and stir fry until just cooked.
Add broccoli back into wok and toss with beef to combine.
Serve with cooked white rice.
NOTE: If you want a little sauce, pour some of the marinade into the wok together with the beef and cook together. If sauce is too watery, you can thicken it with cornstarch.
Tita Elvie (Aunt Elvie) was my best friend Pooh’s mother-in-law. She was a deeply religious woman with a sweet disposition and a kind heart. Pooh loved her dearly and still misses her to this day.
There are some things about Tita Elvie that I always remember, like how she prayed the rosary every single day without fail and included a long litany of the names of each one of her dead relatives at the end of every rosary. She didn’t forget anybody! I remember how she quietly went about doing her housework without complaint no matter how tired she was. And she saved any and all leftovers, whether it was as big as a half a pan of lasagna or as small as two little shrimps. But most of all, I remember her cooking.
She had a repertoire of dishes that were her family’s favorites. This meat dish was my favorite. She didn’t have any measurements for the ingredients. She would just throw everything together. So these measurements are my own. She also didn’t have a name for this dish so I gave it a Spanish name because it always makes me think of something you might be served in Spain with a green salad and a nice glass of Tempranillo wine.
CARNE CON ACEITUNAS DE TITA ELVIE
3 lbs. beef chuck or tri-tip, cubed
salt and pepper, to taste
flour for coating beef
1 stick butter or margarine
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
½ small onion, chopped
½ cup white wine (I like sauvignon blanc)
1 cup beef broth
3 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 small jar olives, drained
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Season beef cubes with salt and pepper.
Coat seasoned beef cubes with flour, shaking off excess.
Melt half the butter or margarine in a pot or deep skillet and fry the beef in batches, adding more butter as necessary. Set cooked beef cubes aside.
Once all the beef is fried, add olive oil to the pan.
Sauté garlic and onions in olive oil.
Add white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits at the bottom.
Add beef broth and worcestershire sauce.
Return beef to pan and add olives.
Cook until beef is tender.
Thicken sauce with parmesan cheese.
NOTE: My ratio of broth to wine is 1 cup beef broth : ½ cup wine. You make as much gravy as you like by adding as much broth and wine as you like following this ratio. My kids like a lot of gravy but I would start with 1 cup of broth and ½ cup wine, and then go up from there depending on how saucy you want the dish.
Pilar is one of my best friends. We like to say we were “born” friends. Our dads met and became friends in elementary school and remained friends all throughout their lives. Both our dads are gone now, but our friendship remains steadfast. Now our children are “born friends,” too, and are carrying on the tradition of friendship. Besides being a kind, caring person and a fiercely loyal friend, Pilar is also an amazing cook. She’s shared quite a few of her recipes with me over the years. She taught me to make this 2-ingredient beef brisket recipe that’s so yummy, you won’t believe how easy it is!
The brisket is seasoned very simply with Paula Deen’s house seasoning, then covered in foil, and baked on a low heat setting for several hours. What comes out of the oven is a delicious beef that’s melt-in-your-mouth tender. Sometimes, the beef ends up swimming in it’s own juice and sometimes not. When the pan is filled with drippings, I turn it into a delicious gravy. If the beef releases no drippings, I serve it plain or topped with a compound butter, like Sriracha Butter.
PILAR’S SLOW-BRAISED BEEF BRISKET
1 slab beef brisket (however many pounds you want to cook)
Paula Deen’s house seasoning, to taste
Preheat oven to 280ºF.
Place brisket directly into a roasting pan – no rack needed.
Season both sides with Paula Deen’s house seasoning, to taste.
Cover roasting pan tightly with tin foil.
Place pan in oven and bake for 8 hours.
Slice meat against the grain and serve.
PAULA DEEN’S HOUSE SEASONING:
1 cup salt
¼ cup black pepper
¼ cup garlic powder
Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.