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Friday, July 9, 2010

Passion for Picadillo

On a trip to Miami many moons ago I sat in a Cuban restaurant with a colleague savoring a plate piled high with Picadillo, black beans and rice.  I remember devouring the dish which was rich in flavors of cumin, raisins and green olives.  A three piece Rhumba band played in the corner making the experience all the more storybook.

Tonight I did not have my own Cuban trio but I did have what appeared to be the makings of Picadillo, or what I could remember of it at least.  I jumped online to Cooking Light to see if I could find a recipe (of course, I did), and set out to make this super easy dish.  Though the Cooking Light recipe is not a traditional Picadillo, it was still delicious, met my objective for a good, healthy dinner, and Michael's OH YUM factor.

Oh, and for my friends and readers who are joining us in Game On, this is totally challenge friendly!

Chicken (or Turkey!) Picadillo

Total time: 30 minutes.
4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)


  • 1  pound skinless, boneless chicken breast (I substituted one lb of ground turkey meat)
  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  ground cumin
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  cup  bottled salsa
  • 1/3  cup  golden raisins
  • 1/4  cup  slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs (optional)


Place chicken in a food processor; pulse until ground. (I omitted this step and used ground turkey meat I had on hand instead).

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  (I actually skipped this by first browning the meat, then adding the onion and cooking until nice and soft, this saved on calories from the oil and was not missed at all in the dish).   Add onion, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken, cumin, salt, cinnamon, and garlic, and cook for 3 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring frequently. Stir in salsa and raisins. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in almonds and cilantro. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.  (I did not have any cilantro on hand but this was still delish!)

The only salsa I had in the cabinet was a jar of Cherith Valley Gardens Habanero Salsa which pretty much set off a five alarm fire in my mouth when I tasted it.  I'm really glad I tried it first though since a whole cup of this in the Picadillo probably would have made it unbearable to eat.  I used a 1/2 cup of the salsa and put in one can of diced tomatoes instead.

Traditionally, Picadillo is served with black beans and white rice, which I swapped out for brown rice instead.

Feeling a bit lazy (it is Friday night after all), I heated up this pre-cooked Brown Rice and mixed in with the black beans.  I added a tiny bit of salt, pepper and cumin to add a bit of spice.

Michael is not a fan of green olives, which you sometimes find in Picadillo.  This recipe does not call for it but I remember liking it in the dish.   So instead of olives I put about a teaspoon of capers on the side to mix in.  What a great flavor combo! 

The dish only took about 30 minutes to cook and in total is about 400 calories for the serving.

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