Turkey Picadillo is a lightened up version of the traditional Latin American dish made with ground beef. Serve it over rice or as a taco filling and enjoy!
This recipe for turkey picadillo was inspired by a segment about Puerto Rican cooking on my favorite radio show, The Splendid Table.
Have you listened to The Splendid Table? LOVE! It’s a radio show about all things cooking, and eating, and a bit of travel while eating. Highly recommend. The last episode I listened to featured a woman named Von Diaz, who was born in Puerto Rico, but moved to Atlanta with her family when she was 5 years old. Diaz spoke about the amazing foods that her mother and grandmother would prepare growing up. Her mom being a bit more of a heath nut, and her grandmother cooking much more in the traditional style.
One of the classic dishes that Diaz grew up with, and now makes very often herself, is picadillo, a dish of ground meat that is seasoned with sofrito, olives and raisins. While the traditional version is cooked with beef, her mother would make a healthier version with ground turkey. In their household, the picadillo would always be on hand in a little container in the fridge, much like Americans would keep lunch meat.
I was intrigued. I pictured myself making this dish, eating a bit and stashing it away in the fridge, and snacking on it on a daily basis, while cold, and then making it again and again, week after week, and becoming a little Irish-Italian girl who always has turkey picadillo on hand.
So, I started googling recipes for picadillo and found that there are SO many different versions. It was a bit overwhelming. So I put into perspective what I wanted in my version of turkey picadillo.
- Ground Turkey
- Red Pepper
- Bay Leaves
- White Wine
- Tomato Sauce
- Green Olives
- Black Beans
- Olive Oil
First, I knew that I wanted to use turkey as my base. I like that it is lower in calories and saturated fat than ground beef. Plus, I prefer the lighter flavor of it.
Second, I found recipes that had some capers thrown into the mix. I’m a caper fiend… So I included those in my recipe.
Third, I wanted to use the traditional elements found in most picadillos – green olives, raisins, spices and tomatoes. I chose to add in cumin, because it’s one of my favorite spices. I also added in a bit of cinnamon to the mix, because I felt like it needed a bit more of a boost. (It worked!)
Fourth – Wine! I had to throw some wine into the mix for good measure. Because… You know… Wine.
How to Make Cuban Picadillo:
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the turkey with salt and pepper and cook until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Drain the turkey and set aside in a bowl.
Add onions, bell pepper, garlic and bay leaves. Cook until onion is softened and translucent.
Return cooked turkey to the skillet, and add the wine, tomato sauce, olives and brine, raisins, black beans, capers, cumin, and cayenne. Simmer for 15 minutes.
The result was amazing. Rich, salty, spicy, and a bit sweet thanks to those raisins. Those raisins…. They plump up so magically when they’re simmered in this mixture and absorb all of the wonderful flavors of the dish. They were one of my favorite parts of this turkey picadillo.
Wine Pairings for Picadillo:
- White wines from Burgundy have a medium-body with lightly spicy notes that will pair well with this dish.
- Rosé is a great partner for this dish – The bright flavors and light acidity match well with the rich flavors in this dish.
- Pinot Noirs from Oregon have a light, bright earthy elegance that will make a great match for this meal.
- Sparkling wines go well with this picadillo. The bubbles cut through the richness and brighten up the flavors on your tongue. I chose a rosé sparkler to match my meal.
If you loved this turkey picadillo I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
Turkey Cuban Picadillo Recipe
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/4 pounds Ground Turkey
- 1 yellow onion (minced)
- 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup white wine or dry vermouth
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup chopped pimento stuffed green olives (plus 1 tablespoon brine)
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- ½ cup canned black beans
- 1 Tablespoon capers
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the turkey with salt and pepper and cook until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Drain the turkey and set aside in a bowl.
- Return the same skillet to the burner, and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic and bay leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and translucent. Return the cooked turkey to the skillet, and add the wine, tomato sauce, olives and brine, raisins, black beans, capers, cumin, and cayenne. Simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm with rice, or as a taco stuffing.