Picadillo Stuffed Acorn Squash with Goji Berries
Picadillo is a staple in my kitchen and a typical Cuban home cooked meal. It is considered peasant food, but delicious and comforting never the less. Nothing pleased me more than to come home after school as child to discover the lingering scent of a soffrito and the click clack of the pots in pans in the kitchen announcing my grandmas presence. I was a blessed child, although my mother was not always present being a single working mother, my grandma was often home to greet me, and feed me of course. Cooking for me was how she expressed her affection, and I felt very loved. Simple meals were the best recipes my grandma cooked. Picadillo is one of those simple comfort foods I learned to make at a very young age, and I vow to teach my children to make it as well. In this recipe I did not stray from the original my grandma taught me besides adding the goji berries. Some cooks put raisins in picadillo, however my grandma did not. I find the sweetness of the raisin or goji berry balances and compliments the bright tang of the olives. I use lean ground turkey in this recipe, but ground beef and sometimes ground pork is commonly used. Ground turkey is healthier, and I also think holds the flavor well. Typically the picadillo is served over white rice with a ripe banana served on the side. White rice is definitely out of fashion to me, but many Cubans will disagree. I have influenced my family to convert to the dark side of rice, and one cuban at a time, I hope to retire the arroz blanco! The perfect bite would take a exact 50/50 ratio of picadillo, rice, and a slice of banana. The combination of the savory and sweet is perfection at its best. It would be criminal in my house if you served picadillo without the banana. You just don't do that. Its like serving cereal without milk.. In this recipe the sweetness of the roasted squash is a stand in for the banana. I think stuffing the squash with picadillo refines and fancies it up a bit. You know...the peacock effect? Whichever way you choose to make the picadillo make sure you add the love. Love is always the best ingredient. Isn't it why grandmas food always taste so good?
Picadillo stuffed Acorn Squash with Goji Berries
The picadillo serves 6 ( stuffing 2 acorns can serve 4) -Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Cook one cup of brown rice
-Slice off the top of the squash and scoop the seeds and fiber out with a spoon. If the acorn does not stand on its bottom, slice a little off the bottom so it stand upright. Coat the inside with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the acorn on a parchment lined cookie sheet open side down. Roast for at least 1/2 hour. Begin cooking the picadillo. When the squash is fork tender, its ready. Flip over upon removing from the oven (they will deflate if kept open side own)
1 package of ground turkey
1 small onion chopped
1/ 2 green or red pepper chopped
3-4 garlic cloves chopped
1 small can of tomato sauce-8oz
1 cup of chicken broth or water
1/4 cup of red wine
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of oregano
a light sprinkle of tumeric
1 bay leaf
5-6 spanish olives
a hefty tsp of pimientos
-Make a sofrito..... in a medium size pot, heat some olive oil and add onion and peppers. Sweat the onions, and once they become transparent, add the garlic. Stir, and cook for about three more minutes.
-Add the ground turkey. Cook until almost completely cooked. Add the wine and reduce for a few minutes.
-Add all other ingredients. Allow to simmer on med-low for about 20 minutes until thick.
Discard the bay leaf
DONT FORGET THE BANANA if you are not stuffing the squash.
Mix the picadillo with the rice upon stuffing