Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cuban Shepherd's Pie???

I've been meaning to make this for a while. It's difficult for me to make all the recipes I would like to  because of the likes/dislikes and food restrictions of my family. My daughter can't eat dairy... that eliminates a lot, no cheeses, no creamy sauces, no mashed potatoes! My mother can't eat eggs or red meat.... yeah, I know! My husband doesn't like olives, peppers or raisins... and here I am going to make a meat dish (which my mother can't eat) with olives, peppers and raisins (which my husband doesn't like) and mashed potatoes (which my daughter can't eat). The only ingredient that suits everyone on is the sweet fried plantains that lay on the bottom layer! Here we go.

First we are going to prepare our PICADILLO. I have posted this recipe before, but I will repeat it again here as I'm adjusting it slightly.

1 lb ground beef
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 cup tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup Sherry
about a dozen pimento stuffed Spanish olives
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup water
1 carrot, sliced
salt to taste

Brown and strain the ground beef. Set aside. Warm olive oil on medium heat and saute onions, peppers, and garlic until limp. Add the bay leaf. Add the ground beef, tomato sauce, sherry, water, cumin and Sherry. Add the olives and carrots and salt. Cover and let simmer for about 40 minutes.

You can used instant mashed for this if you like, prepare enough for about 8. Otherwise, while your picadillo cooks, peel 5 large red potatoes, slice and boil. Prepare your mashed as you normally would. I mash mine until creamy with milk, butter and salt.

I cheated and bought a couple boxes of GOYA frozen sweet plantains that only require frying. It's difficult for me to find ripe plantains here, but if you have access to them you need to buy some that are turning black (if they are black they may be too soft and fall apart). You will need about 3 plantains.  Peel them and slice them diagonally about 1/2 inch thick and fry them in vegetable oil. (see picture) Let them sit on a paper-towel lined plate 'til ready to assemble.

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a rectangular baking pan place your plantains in a layer at the bottom. (I was a little short on plantains, it's best to have enough to fully cover the bottom of the pan). Next, using a slotted spoon (you don't want too much liquid) transfer your picadillo in a layer on top of your plaintains. Next comes the potatoes, smooth them out with a spoon to cover the picadillo completely and form a seal to the edges of the pan. Bake for 30 minutes. (I turned on the broiler for the last 5 to brown the potato top).


  1. Wow you do have a lot of restrictions! I have a few, but it's only with "dislikes", not "can't haves". I dislike shrimp, ham, pears, and blueberries, my husband dislikes cucumbers and green peppers (or red peppers, yellow peppers) my daughter dislikes mushrooms, tuna, and she is getting better with sauces. Not too bad it's very do-able.

    Now back to your shepherds pie, the picadillo sounds like an empanada filling. I've cheated and used the frozen plantains before too, and I have no excuse because every supermarkert here has plantains. It sound delicious, it's on my list to try and make! So who ate this one? :D

  2. Hello Lyndsey! Let me tell you that it was a real hit! I ate it as well as my husband, my sister, my niece and nephew (although my niece picked out a lot of things including the plantains). My husband was good and ate it all without complaints about the olives, etc.

  3. At my house the big issue with my father is "raisins" and "fish sauce" used in Southeast asian cooking. Also not everyone at home eats beef tongue, pork feet, beef liver, and fish (well my father only eat filets of fish, most of the time at home we cook whole fish or just like fresh fish cut into steaks and stuff so not his cup of tea) aside from that my grandmother cannot tolerate spicy fiery dishes (which are common in my house too)

    This casserole is a combination of "Tambor de Picadillo" and "Tambor de Maduros" isnt it?

  4. Nathan, I've never heard of thoses dishes. I'll have to google them. :)

  5. I have very few food "restrictions". I guess growing up in "socialist" Cuba had its good side after all LOL... NOT! (You just had no choice: had to like everything to be able to eat everyday, whatever was available). Let's see, what do I dislike??? I guess goat's milk and prunes... and I am not too wild about horseradish and mint jelly for leg of lamb... This Cuban Shepherd's Pie looks amazing, though. I bet it was too very tasty, just like you say. Wanna move to L.A. and open up a Cuban joint? I volunteer to be your pinche de cocina (kitchen helper). XOXOXOX

  6. Pedro, when I retire from advertising, I will open a Cuban joint, and you can definitely be my "pinche" LOL!

  7. when I informed my parents that I was becoming a vegetarian (about 12 years ago) they were in shock,, dad asked, "but what about thanskgiving, you will make an exception right? my older sister said what no more chicken? so lucky for me there are so many tofu products available. I still have to cook meals with meat for hubby I just have him do the tasting for salt, spices etc.. and even though my maiden name was olivas I don't really care for them nor acetunas (what's the difference?)

    that's great that your dish was a success, boy makes me a lucky wife since hubby eats everything (ok almost everything, no tamales)..when he moved to the states from croatia he tried canned tamales (that's already problem number 1 then he ate them with the husks problem 2.)

  8. That's ironic that your maiden name is Olivas and you don't like olives. I googled: La aceituna es el fruto del olivo. Se le puede llamar también oliva... so it's the same thing. I have a friend whose last name is Pino and she's allergic to pine. Go figure.
    Anyway, I'm like your husband in that I'll eat anything including tamales. You can make this recipe with vegetarian ground beef and it will taste just as good.

  9. Hi I.M.,
    First, I love your pictures and that you made a Cuban version of Shepherds Pie. I've been doing it for some time but didn't label it correctly like you've done. My dh is from the midwest and he too will not eat olives, raisins, plantains etc. Ay, Dios mio! SOOOO, I make picadillo (without all the aforementioned good stuff he doesn't like) and serve his portion with the mashed on the side and then for the rest of the family, I put all the good stuff in. I tell dh this "I made Shepherds Pie just for you" and I tell the rest of the family-"It's picadillo day"! Win-win!
    Oh, by the way I use the same plantains but I swear if you follow the microwave instructions, they're done faster & with less fat and they are great! You won't know the difference!

  10. Thanks for the tip Maria. I didn't even realize that they were microwavable. I guess I should read labels now an then.
    Our husbands sound similar in their food tastes. If your husband is like mine, he will prefer potatoes over rice any time. It's a midwestern thing. That's why I came up with this shepherd's pie. (I still prefer picadillo con arroz, frijoles y maduros).

  11. Yes, his favorite meal is "meat 'n potatoes" ! I'm with you on the picadillo, rice, frijoles y maduros!

  12. This is a pre-revolutionary dish in Cuba. It is called "Tambor de Papa." The difference from Shepard's,pie being that in the Tambor there are 2 layers of mashed potato-a bottom one and a top one in between the picadillo.

  13. Anonoymous, yes you are right. I've googled "tambor de papa" and saw how it is made. Thanks for the comment.

  14. My girlfriend made this dish last night. It was so good that I literally wanted to have sex with her right at the table. She substituted the beef for Smart Ground thereby making the dish vegetarian. I really enjoyed the sweet and savory contrast with the raisins and stuffed Spanish olives. She made the mashed potatoes very light which was a nice touch because I often feel that shepherds pie can be too heavy. But last night I had two portions of the meal and another portion of her. Thank you.

  15. I'm glad you enjoyed the "dish". Happy to be of service. :)