I worked together with the California Raisin Marketing Board to create this recipe and was compensated for my time. The opinions below are mine and mine alone and do not represent those of the California Raisin Marketing Board.
The day after our holiday gathering, I packed up all the Christmas sugar cookies, biscotti and tamales, and we were left with a dark cherry cheesecake and hungry for dinner. I made one of my favorite, easy-to-make, go-to dishes: beef picadillo. The dish takes many forms wherever it is found throughout Latin America. I wanted to make a lighter version because I ate a lot of tamales the night(s) before and I’d like to fit into my New Year’s Eve party outfit. For this picadillo, I used lean ground beef and sweet California Raisins, which are an all-natural, dried-by-the-sun fruit you can feel good about feeding your family – especially during the holidays. The ingredient list says it all: Raisins. I also left out the potatoes, skipped the regular rice, and paired the picadillo with healthier wild rice, but quinoa works just as well.
The holidays are all about traditional comfort foods, and that usually means heavy, rich foods that can weigh you down. While I love those decadent, buttery, cheesy, fatty foods, from time-to-time I need to lighten them up a bit so I can enjoy a large slice of cheesecake.
Picadillo with California Raisins
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced serrano chile
1 /12 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup California raisins
½ cup chopped cilantro
Zest of a large orange
6 large green bell peppers, washed (make sure they can stud upright)
1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the ground beef. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon and allow to brown. Season with salt and pepper. (The meat will not brown if the pan is too crowded or if it has too much liquid. Cook in batches and/or drain as necessary.)
2. Once the ground beef is cooked and browned, remove and allow to drain on paper towels. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat.
3. In the same pan, once the reserved fat is hot again, sauté the onions until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
4. Stir in the serrano and allow to cook for 1 minute.
5. Add the minced garlic and allow to cook for 1 minute. Stir frequently to prevent the garlic from burning.
6. Mix in the can of diced tomatoes with any juices.
7. Return the cooked ground beef to the pan. Quickly stir in the raisins, cilantro and zest. Allow to cook together for about 2 minutes. Adjust seasonings.
8. Cut off the tops (and reserve) the tops of the bell peppers. Remove the seeds and as much of the pith as possible.
9. Divide the filling between the bell peppers and bake uncovered at 350°F for about 30 minutes. Top with
Monterey Jack cheese, Mexican crema or guacamole before serving.