I find that ground beef recipes are always real time-savers in the kitchen, and frequently turn to them when I need to get something on the table fast. And while ground beef isn't super-cheap the way it has been in days gone by (and this is probably a good thing), when you make it casserole-style, or serve it with a pile of rice and vegetables, it can still be a frugal meal. Ground beef recipes tend to be flexible, too, so if beef isn't your thing, or you don't have any on-hand, you can always substitute another ground meat, like turkey or lamb. You can often even make a decent vegetarian meal from a ground beef recipe by substituting cooked lentils, or other meat substitute.
This easy recipe is one of my quick and easy favorites. It's my take on a traditional ground beef and tomato stew that is found in various Latin American countries and Spain. The way I do it is Cuban-style, using raisins for a bit of sweetness, olives for some saltiness, and the classic Cuban flavors of oregano and cumin. It comes together in less than 45 minutes, and is totally delicious. Serve it over some rice, with a scoop of black beans on the side for a complete dinner.
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 medium green pepper (cored, seeded and diced)
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef
- 3 garlic gloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce (you can also add some extra fresh chopped tomatoes, but it is optional)
- ½ cup water
- ½ teaspoon apple cider or red wine vinegar
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup raisins
- 1 small can (about ½ cup) pimento-stuffed green olives (or any pitted olives of choice)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, and peppers, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until slightly soft and translucent.
- Add ground beef to skillet, using wooden spoon or spatula to break up meat, and combine with the peppers and onions. Stir occasionally until meat is browned and cooked through. Fold garlic, cumin, oregano, and paprika into the browned meat, and cook, while stirring, for another minute.
- Drain meat, or spoon off any excess fat. Add tomato sauce, water, vinegar, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 30 minutes, add raisins and olives, then allow to simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced and the picadillo is thick.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Serve over hot, cooked rice.
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