Warning! This is an experiment.
The NY Times recently published a recipe by Sam Sifton for Picadillo which he calls the ultimate Cuban comfort food. Picadillo is a sort of sloppy-Joe kind of stew made from ground meat (picadillo means mince), tomatoes, raisins, olives and liberally seasoned with cinnamon, cumin and other warm spices. To my taste, it sounds like a Persian inflected dish (who often combine meat, fruit and spices) via Spain (remember, that Arabs held sway in the Iberian peninsula for nearly 700 years). Mr. Sifton suggests serving it with rice. OK, but I couldn’t quite get my head around picadillo as a stew.
Recently Jeanne made spinach enchiladas which were quite tasty. Her enchiladas prompted me to think of picadillo as a stand in for the filling of an enchilada-like presentation. Of course, I couldn’t follow the typical enchilada routine by covering the filled tortillas with a tomato and chili sauce as the picadillo has plenty of tomatoes in it already. So, why not invert the order of things? Enchiladas often have cheese in the filling so why not put the cheese on the outside. But I didn’t want to just bury the tortillas in shredded cheese. How about something creamier? I’ve got it – Alfredo sauce! I know, it’s not Cuban. It’s not even Latino. But it creamy cheesy good. And you can buy it in a jar, ready to go.
For the picadillo I followed the NY Times recipe to a “T”, just cutting it in half to accommodate our more limited table (and so as to not have too much left over in case my experiment was a bust).
Sprinkle a light layer of grated cheese (I used a Mexican blend but cheddar would be fine). Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350˚ F. for about 30 minutes or untll the Alfredo sauce is bubbly and lightly browned.
Not much to look at but pretty yummy. I think the picadillo mixture could serve other purposes – maybe an Cuban sloppy-joe?