Lunchbreak: Picadillo

Karla Armour, Owner of La Matriz Bakery

The Spice House

-1512 N. Wells St./Chicago

-1941 Central St./Evanston


The name "picadillo" is rooted in the Spanish verb picar (say: pee-KAR), which means "to chop, dice or mince."  It is a pan-Latino and Filipino dish that has many regional variations.  Some ingredient options include diced potatoes, raisins (sometimes bloomed in rum), olives and nuts.  The Guyanese version includes cabbage.

 Picadillo (w/cabbage option)

1 large pot or wide skillet

1 lb ground beef

2 tbsp butter & 2 tbsp cooking oil

1 cup diced white or gold potato

1 medium onion, diced (approx. ½ cup)

3 cloves of garlic, diced

¼ cup raisins, craisins, currants, dried cherries (halved) or dried apricots (chopped)

8 oz can of tomato sauce or 1 cup of diced tomato

1 tsp Pilsen Latino Seasoning from The Spice House

½ tsp Orange Peel Zest from The Spice House

½ tsp Lemon Peel Zest from The Spice House

Dash of ground Vietnamese “Saigon” Cinnamon from The Spice House

Optional:  Half of a medium green cabbage, thin to medium sliced (approx. 2-3 cups), rinsed and drained

-Over medium heat, sautee the ground beef, stirring and breaking it into smaller sections with a spoon or spatula.  Drain the fat.  Remove meat from the pot/skillet.

-Add butter and cooking oil to the pot. As the fats melt and liquefy, add potato, onion and garlic.  Sautee until golden and translucent.

-Stir in meat, dried fruit, tomato sauce or tomato, cinnamon, orange zest, lemon zest and Pilsen Latino Seasoning [and cabbage if opted for] .

-Slightly reduce heat, cover pot/skillet and simmer 10-15 minutes until cabbage is tender with slight crunch.  Stir occasionally.  Remove from heat when done.


Rice pilaf

1 small or medium pot or saucepan

1 cup long grain white rice

¼ cup cooking oil

2 cups water or chicken broth, hot

-Over medium heat, add the oil to the pot.  Once oil is hot, but not smoking, add the rice.  Stir constantly to ensure grains are evenly coated with oil.

-Continue stirring as rice becomes golden color.

-Add hot water or broth.  Stir.

-Slightly reduce heat, cover pot and simmer 15-20 minutes until rice is tender to bite.  Remove from heat when done.


Pineapple-Vanilla Lemonade

1 gallon pitcher

2 qts cold water

1 qt pineapple juice or nectar

2 envelopes unsweetened lemonade mix

3 cups granulated sugar

2 Mexican vanilla beans from The Spice House

-Steep vanilla beans in cold water at least 6 hours.  Remove beans from water and set aside.

-Add pineapple juice or nectar.  Stir.

-Add lemonade mix.  Stir.

-Stir in sugar 1 cup at a time.  Return vanilla beans to lemonade.