Before we moved to New York, I mean Jersey City, we lived in Cambridge with a couple of roommates. Nav and Sara were into food and liked to cook big ambitious meals on their days off. When Kenton and I got married, Sara gave us a stack of her favorite cookbooks. One of them was The Book of Latin American Cooking by Elizabeth Lam Ortiz. I have tried a number of the recipes but the only one that stuck was Picadillo. Picadillo is ground meat cooked with tomatoes and vegetables into a saucy stewy kind of dish that can be served with rice or put in tacos, burritos or empanadas. Many latin countries have regional versions of picadillo, but to my mind, the exciting part is the raisins, the chopped apple and the green stuffed olives.
1.5 lbs ground beef
1 med-lg onion- chopped
2 cloves garlic- minced or through press
1 small red or green bell pepper – chopped
1/2 cup raisins – soaked in hot water
1/2 cup sliced or whole green olive stuffed with pimento
1 small apple- peeled and chopped
1 large can chopped tomatoes — not crushed
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, add onions, garlic and peppers and cook until softened. Add the ground beef and break up with spoon/fork until looses pink color. (If you have thyme you can add some now, but optional) Add raisins and water, olives, and apples. Stir to combine. Add tomatoes. Stir well and bring to boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 35ish minutes until it all blends together. If it seems dry, add some water. If it seems to wet, add some olive oil and cook a little longer.
Serve with rice and tortillas (corn or flour). Grated cheddar or jack cheese is optional.