Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A recipe from Marlen

Picadillo a la Marlen
The Ugly Binder, a recipe from an online friend

1 pound lean ground beef, browned
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 medium green pepper, chopped
1 small can tomato sauce (NOT paste)
Olive oil as needed
3 garlic gloves, minced
1 small box raisins
1 small jar pimento stuffed olives
1/4 cup golden cooking wine*
Salt, pepper, oregano to taste I don't add salt since the cooking wine and olives add enough salt

Brown ground beef in a little olive oil in a large frying pan (I season it with a bit of salt, pepper and oregano). Don't over cook it. Just saute until the meat no longer pink. Set aside.
In a bit of olive oil, saute onion, green pepper and garlic until softened. Add tomato sauce, golden cooking wine*, a bit more pepper and oregano, and cooked ground beef. Add raisins and olives. Mix well. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Uncover, stir and cover again. Simmer for 15 minutes more or until meat is done. Taste and correct seasonings. Serve over white rice.

*per Marlen, this is a peasant dish and good wine just doesn't do it in this recipe

I've actually been making this recipe for years. It was given to me by an online friend who has since passed away. Marlen was a very proud woman, and I mean that in the most positive sense. She was proud of her Cuban heritage, very proud to have become an American citizen (and to have helped many, many others become citizens) and she was quite proud of her recipes. She would probably come back and kick my butt if I didn't give props to her here for this recipe, which I have no problem doing. What I love about this recipe is that it didn't come out of a cookbook - Marlen probably ate this dish her entire life and she sent me the instructions in her own words, with her own notes.

Besides all that, this is just a great blend of flavors. I love the sweetness of the raisins against the saltiness of the olives. I apologize to the olive haters out there. I suppose you could leave them out but I don't think you would be left with as good of a dish if you did. Of course, the olives are the best part around our house. This isn't the most photogenic recipe, since it is a peasant dish after all, but trust me, there are never any leftovers. In the rare case that you make this and do have leftovers, Marlen suggested that this also makes a good sandwich filling or stuffing for crescent rolls.

Oh yeah, I also tried a new (to me) way of cooking rice. I boiled it in salted water, then drained it. This is so much easier than cooking it per the directions on the box. I wish I had tried cooking it this way years ago.


Randi said...

Twice a year our town has a big rummage sale and I always cook dinner and we have some friends over afterwards and we show off what we bought( we're all re-sellers) I made picadillo one year, a recipe given to me from a friend who got it from a cuban friend. It has raisins and olives too. I made it the night before so the flavors could meld. Everyone really loved it. I used ground turkey as we dont eat any red meat. I used it as a filling for whole wheat tortillas. I love introducing people to different kinds of food( this area of canada is pretty much meat and potatoes).

Anonymous said...

The olives are what would be the hit at our house as well! I'm going to get ground beef out tonight and try this tomorrow night! Thanks for another wonderful recipe to try!

The Cookbook Junkie said...

Marlen suggested that ground turkey was a good substitute for the beef but I haven't tried it yet. Maybe next time.

Rebel, you'll love this.

Erin, go to your room!

Are you a Gardenwebber?? I think Marlen was quite a presence on the internet. I knew her from the Kitchen Table. I only lurk on the cooking forum there.