Picadillo – a refreshing change from traditional camp meals

picadiloTired of the typical camping meals of chili and soups? This recipe is a delicious change from the boring usual and will definitely wake up your taste buds. Picadillo is a traditional Cuban food made from ground beef in a tomato based sauce. It is usually accompanied with fried sweet plantains. The sweetness of the plantains sets off the savory sauce making a delicious combination. If plantains are not available, a common substitution is raisins.  If you’d like to try the non-dehydrated version of this, I will post the original recipe below also.


Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Serves: 2

Most of the ingredients below can all be purchased online but it is usually more cost effective (and tasty!) to dehydrate things yourself. However, the exception to this is the bell peppers. They are pretty expensive fresh and can be purchased cheaper dehydrated. When I have a crop from my garden I will dehydrate them, but otherwise I buy the ones linked below.

Tools Required: Larger camp saucepan for two.



Measure and add all ingredients to your lightweight container of choice. When you are at your campsite, mix the contents of the bag with enough water to cover all the ingredients. Simmer over your heat source until everything is rehydrated, adding water if needed. Meanwhile, cook your instant rice following the package directions. The picadillo is done when the ground beef is soft and the peas are rehydrated. Serve over rice and enjoy some Cuban food in the middle of the woods.

Traditional Non-dried Recipe

Serves 4


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced,
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup white cooking wine
  • 1 can baby peas drained
  • 10 large pimento stuffed green olives, quartered
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce or 1 can of V8 (I like the bit of sweetness a V8 adds)
  • 2 sweet plantains or 1/3 cup raisins


  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat; cook the garlic, onion, and green bell pepper in the oil until softened.
  2. Add the ground beef to the skillet. Break it apart into small pieces while browning. Add all the spices while cooking the beef.
  3. Once the beef is fully browned add the white wine and vinegar. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Then add the tomato sauce and olives. Cover the skillet, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least another 1/2 hour, adding water if it gets too dry.
  5. Meanwhile make the rice.
  6. About 10 minutes before serving, peel your sweet plantains and slice diagonally into 1/2 inch slices. Plantains will have mostly blackened skin and feel soft when they are sweet and ripe. Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a pan and fry plantains. When they are a golden brown color flip them and then fry the other side. If you are using raisins instead, add them along with the canned peas about 10 minutes before serving.
  7. Serve the picadillo over rice with fried plantains on the side.


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