This picadillo recipe is just about one of the easiest ways of cooking beef. In fact, let me share a little story to show just how easy it is.
Before she retired, my mom was a flight attendant, so she could be gone for a few days at a time when she was working. To make my dad's life easier (she does love to spoil her family), she planned all the meals he'd have to make while she was gone, and got all the ingredients he'd need.
She always picked super easy recipes so he wouldn't have to spend lots of time cooking or be overwhelmed by crazy instructions. Well, this picadillo recipe was the easiest one of the whole bunch. After 15 years my dad still talks about how wonderfully easy it is to make, and how delicious it is!
There you have it. This ground beef recipe is a little family tradition for me... and a delicious, easy meal.
You can serve picadillo with rice, wrapped in a tortilla or as stuffing in an empanada. In my family, we always serve it over couscous. Not really a traditional way of doing it, but that's the way we love it.
Here it is!
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the onion and garlic, and cook until the onion starts to become translucent.
Increase the heat to medium high, and add the ground beef. Cook until the beef is browned, breaking up the beef into small pieces.
Add the chick peas, tomatoes, olives, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne pepper and bay leaves to the pot, and stir.
Simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves, and serve.
Do you prefer to use dried chick peas instead of canned? No problem. Just use 1 cup of dried peas, and simmer them in water for 2 or 3 hours, and then simply follow the recipe using the cooked chick peas instead of the canned ones.
My mom always made picadillo with raisins. Well, neither my husband nor I like raisins, so they mysteriously vanished from my version of the recipe. But, if you like raisins, you can add about 1/2 a cup. Just toss them in at the same time as the olives.
This picadillo recipe is a bit on the mild side, since my husband and I prefer it that way. If you like spicy foods, you could easily double the amount of cayenne pepper or add other hot spices.
Other ingredients you can experiment with are capers, potatoes or hard-boiled eggs. Picadillo is a Latin American dish, and varies a lot depending which region you're in. Try out lots of different ways and find out what you like best.