Cuban Elk Picadillo with Cilantro Lime Rice
by Alex Krasnec
Who doesn’t love a recipe that you can make quickly, doesn’t require unusual ingredients, eats well during any season, and adds a simple option to those looking for some diversity in ground venison dishes? I sure learned to appreciate this dish when I got the idea for the recipe from my mother-in-law, who immigrated to the USA from Cuba many years ago. She described to me a traditional Cuban recipe that emphasizes meat as the centerpiece for a dish and just a few key ingredients and spices.
This dish works great with any ground venison meat, but I prepared this meal with my first archery bull elk taken on public land last September in Colorado. After a few years of failed attempts and mistakes, I started to listen to several podcasts including Randy Newberg's as well as several other conservation-focused groups who put out great content. This changed my perspective on hunting and my approach, and much to my surprise I was able to harvest this elk on my first morning last year with a few techniques I picked up from their episodes. Butchering, packing out and processing this elk entirely on my own brought me uniquely close to this animal, and makes this meat a little more special when preparing and eating it.
My mother-in-law was skeptical about making her special dish from wild game–until she tried it. Now she asks me to make this every time she visits. I love it because I can make it for my family quickly after a long day at work and everyone enjoys it. I hope you enjoy this flavorful dish with your friends and family.
- 1 lb ground venison
- ½ medium-size yellow onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- ¼ cup chopped green olives (pimento or plain)
- ¼ cup raisins
- 8 oz tomato sauce or 12 oz processed and crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp Goya seasoning (or other multipurpose seasoning)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Several sprigs of fresh cilantro (optional, set aside a few for garnish)
For Cilantro Lime Rice:
- 1-1/2 cups rice
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp chicken bullion
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- In a skillet, sauté the garlic and onion in 1 tbsp olive oil until onion is translucent, remove and set aside.
- Brown venison and crumble meat in olive oil.
- Add back in the onion, garlic and rest of ingredients (except a few pieces fresh cilantro), mix thoroughly.
- Cover skillet, turn to low heat and steam for 5 minutes.
- Serve over cornbread in the summer and mashed potatoes in the winter (I usually serve with a side of Vietnamese style pickled carrots).
For Cilantro Lime Rice:
- Start rice at same time as the picadillo, they will finish at about the same time.
- In a pot with a tight fitting lid, add olive oil and rice, mix. Under low heat, warm the rice, stirring frequently for 3 minutes.
- Add water, and rest of ingredients, mix and bring to a low boil.
- Turn heat to low, cover, simmer for 20 minutes.
- Place a layer of rice on plate, scoop picadillo onto rice, garnish with cilantro.