Piccadillo – Cuban Chili with or without meat

This recipe is  beloved as you can see from the spatterings of tomato, sauteed onion, olive oil, brown sugar, smushed raisin, and olive juice decorating it.  I lost the piece of paper it is on (how about that a recipe on a piece of paper instead of on my kindle) and recently found it just where I’d left it! 🙂

The smushed and splattered ingredients sound interesting, don’t they?  My Sis-in-law introduced me to this recipe many moons ago and it was my go to recipe for guests.  It is ‘company good‘ as Little Sis would say.

Originally I made this with ground turkey, but I’m telling you that ground organic turkey costs about as much as caviar!  AND since we’re trying to eat less meat anyway… I thought I’d re-do the protein factor of this dish with my favorite legume – the humble lentil.  Lentils cook faster than many beans, do not need to be soaked overnight, do not overpower the flavors they join and are cheaper than a dozen new chicks.  Get it?  Cheep-er?  (My husband says if you have to explain it, it isn’t funny.  Ah well.. I amuse myself)

On to this yummy recipe that creates a fulcrum where interesting and tantalizing flavors meet in a beautiful balancing inter-dependent dance of delish.   Nuff said?  Too much said.

How’s about a picture?

This is what, in my opinion, along with the great spices, makes this dish so great:

Do you really need anything else? Shall we just eat now?

Picadillo (Adapted from a recipe given me by my Sis-in-law, from a friend of hers – tried to find it online and couldn’t find this one)

1 & 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
3/4 cup lentils cooked in 2 cups of broth.  Boil water, add lentils, loser heat, simmer until soft.  Add a little more water if it disappears entirely, but don’t leave it soupy in the end.
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 large onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper of any color
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes undrained – or about 1.5 cups diced tomatoes if you have fresh.
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 cup dry sherry
3/4 – 1 tsp ground cumin – I like things spicy, so all of these are higher than the original, but with a range for ya!
3/4 – 1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 -3/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
1 – 1.5 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup coarsely chopped stuffed green olives (In all my coarseness, I simply chop in half)
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds (I use whole almonds from Costco and also cut in half – WAY cheaper than slivered almonds.  I also do not toast out of laziness but it would probably make it even better to do this step)

If using turkey, brown in olive oil
If using lentils, cook them – allowing about 20 minutes for this – a great time to chop!

Add in to turkey (or start fresh with olive oil) onion, garlic and pepper and saute 3 – 5 minutes
Add lentils in to the saute pot, or the saute pot contents into the lentils
Add remaining ingredients and bring to a slow boil.
Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, uncovered.

The lentils can thicken things up a bit, so if you need to, add a little more broth or water or more diced tomatoes with juice to reach the desired thickness.

I serve this with either rice or cornbread.  You don’t have to serve it with anything because it totally rocks to quote my 1 year old.

Any other entree dishes out there with raisins in them?