I’m sure you’ve heard that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. With the food, it’s pretty much the same, at least for me. When I imagine a meal cooked by an Italian grandma in some village where no tourist ever set his foot, I see a big pot of undefined something that she then pours over a plate of pasta or rice with a big soup spoon. It looks nothing like a 5-star restaurant dish, but it will be one of the tastiest things you’ve ever tasted.

Unfortunately, I don’t have an Italian grandma at hand. So, if I want to cook a big pot of undefined something that would feel the kitchen with an irresistible smell and give me that cozy feeling of home, I have to turn to another means than importing old ladies from foreign countries. Recently, I stumbled across three (partially) Cuban grandpas who live in US, have their own homepage and also seem to know stuff. I borrowed two recipes from them already that turned out to be just perfect for my taste. One of them is this Cuban Minced Meat or, as they call it, Picadillo.

I have three words for you: cumin, coriander and olives. If you think it’s gross, you have neither a spirit of an adventurer nor any idea about the good stuff in life. If you are intrigued by this combination, I like you, let’s cook!

Total time: 1.5 hours
Servings: 6 (4 if you’ve invited my husband and me over)
Gluten-free: yes



1 kg ground beef


2 cups onion, diced
2 cups green pepper
4 cloves garlic
3 large tomatoes


1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp oregano
1/2 cup green olives, chopped

Other stuff:

salt and black pepper (to taste)
olive oil for sautéing

Preparation steps

  1. Seed and finely chop the green pepper.
  2. Mince the garlic.
  3. Peel, seed and chop tomatoes.


  1. Sauté onion and green pepper in olive oil in a large frying pan. Sauté about 5 minutes, until the onion is softened, then add the garlic and ground beef.
  2. Mash the onion and green pepper into the sautéing meat and cook until the meat is browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and oregano. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Add olives and simmer 5 minutes longer. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve hot over white rice or with a slice of fresh white bread.


  • What’s sauté? It’s a fancy way to say “fry with little oil on high heat”.
  • How much is “a cup”? Well, depends on whether it is an espresso or a tea one. Just kidding. Apparently, it’s an official measurement unit. If I see “cups” in recipes like this where no precision to the gramm is required, I interpret them relatively. So, if I know approximately how much onion any minced meat I make usually needs, I will use the same amount of green pepper in this recipe. If it said “3 cups of green pepper”, I would use three times as much.

P.S. There was actually also a word number four: raisins. In the original recipe, one is supposed to put 1/3 cup of raisins together with the olives. I bought some, even put then next to the stove, but my hands just refused to put any, and my gut voice was screaming like a girl that I’m about to spoil otherwise absolutely perfect pot of tastiness. If you manage to try it with raisins, please let me know. I’m sure my gut voice can be persuaded with some positive empirical evidence.