Cuban Elk Picadillo with Cilantro Lime Rice

Cuban Elk Picadillo with Cilantro Lime Rice

by Alex Krasnec

My Story

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.

Ingredients

For Picadillo:

  • 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

Instructions

For Picadillo:

  1. In a skillet, sauté the garlic and onion in 1 tbsp olive oil until onion is translucent, remove and set aside.
  2. Brown venison and crumble meat in olive oil.
  3. Add back in the onion, garlic and rest of ingredients (except a few pieces fresh cilantro), mix thoroughly.
  4. Cover skillet, turn to low heat and steam for 5 minutes.
  5. 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:

  1. Start rice at same time as the picadillo, they will finish at about the same time.
  2. 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.
  3. Add water, and rest of ingredients, mix and bring to a low boil.
  4. Turn heat to low, cover, simmer for 20 minutes.

For Assembly:

  1. Place a layer of rice on plate, scoop picadillo onto rice, garnish with cilantro.