In 1947, one of my mom’s five brothers followed his call to become a minister. Since his ordination, he has served churches and communities in Cuba, Key West and Miami. Over the years, he and his family have introduced our large German family to Cuban food! Although our tongues still struggle to pronounce the names of the dishes properly, our taste buds do not struggle to enjoy them. Our potluck family reunions now have Arroz con Pollo, Picadillo (peak-uh-dee-yo) and Key Lime pie along with the bratwurst and sauerkraut, meatballs and currant cream pie.

Visiting this part of our family in Miami is an amazing experience. We have had paella (pie-ay-uh) prepared poolside at their home, fresh-caught shrimp from the keys, conch fritters and chowder in the Keys, and a rice pudding that I am still begging my cousin to teach me to make (you know who you are)!

Of the recipes they have shared with me, picadillo is the one I make the most often. My family loves the combination of ground beef, tomato sauce, wine, onion, cumin, green olives and raisins. Wait … that’s not true. I love the raisins. My guys do not. I make my portion with the raisins separately from theirs without the raisins (yes, I spoil them very much).

I will put “optional” behind the raisins in the recipe but be brave and try it at least once. That little bite of sweetness with the tang of the olives is what makes this meal really special.


1 large onion, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine
16-20 green olives, cut in half
1-2 ounces raisins (optional)
4-6 cups cooked white or brown rice

Sauté onion, green pepper and garlic in oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir in Mexican oregano and cumin. Add all remaining ingredients except rice and stir until well combined. Simmer 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Serve over rice.

Makes 4-6 servings.

The recipe my aunt gave me only calls for ground beef. I added the ground pork and the Mexican oregano and cumin. I don’t think she’ll mind as long as I remind her that I think of them every time I make it.

I’m long overdue to pay them a visit, and that may be the only way I’ll get that rice pudding recipe too!

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