Picadillo is a fragrant Cuban chili, easily cooked in just one pan with ground beef, onions, olives, and warm spices like cinnamon and cumin. Low carb, keto, and paleo.
My Take On This Classic Cuban Dish
The ground beef is briefly marinated with baking soda, which helps tenderizes the meat so it is less tough and dry when exposed to heat (similar to the technique of using corn starch to tenderize flank steak in stir fry dishes). The meat is slowly browned by cooking it in a mixture of vegetables, which cooks the meat more gently.
To keep this recipe as simple as possible, the simmering time is minimized by skipping additional liquids like wine or broth. Instead, use the beef’s natural juices to provide liquid for simmering. There’s no need to use a lid, which allows the liquid to evaporate more efficiently.
The proportions in this recipe have been tweaked so that it works for a low carb or keto diet, summing up to 7.5g net carbs per serving. Since picadillo is commonly served over rice, you can pair this with a low carb alternative like fried cauliflower rice or spiralized vegetables. Another serving idea is to use picadillo as a filling inside tortilla wraps (Mission and other brands sell low carb versions).
- 1 pound 90% lean ground beef (avoid less than 90%, which will be too greasy)
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces canned tomato sauce (I use unsalted)
- 3 ounces (drained weight) pitted green olives, thinly sliced (I use ones with pimiento)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- chopped fresh cilantro (for topping at the end)
- In a mixing bowl, stir together water, salt, baking soda, and pepper until the baking soda is dissolved. Evenly pour the marinade over the beef, stirring or using hands to work the marinade into the meat until it's just absorbed (don't overmix). The baking soda will help tenderize the meat. Set aside.
- In a wide pan (I use an 11-inch nonstick pan), heat olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add chopped bell pepper and onion, cooking until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add minced garlic and all dried spices to the pan, stirring for about 30 seconds to release the aromatics.
- Reduce to medium-low heat. Add tomato sauce, stirring it in for about 30 seconds.
- Add the beef and olives, and increase back to medium heat. Cook until the beef is browned and some of the released liquid has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently to crumble the beef as it cooks.
- Serve into bowls, and top with fresh cilantro.
|Makes 3 Servings|
|Amount Per Serving:|
|Total Fat 24g||37%|
|Saturated Fat 7g||37%|
|Net Carb 7.5g|
|Total Carb 10g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 2.5g||11%|