(Theguardian) – A Mexican ragu-style sauce full of gentle spicing and comforting warmth
Picadillo is to Mexico what bolognese is to Italy: a homely mince dish.
Here, I have used venison, an underused meat that is low in fat and rich in protein and essential minerals. The picadillo is seasoned with the soft flavours of allspice, cinnamon and clove, and uses the sweetness of fruit for balance (the finished ragù is often used to stuff dried chillies).
This makes it the perfect vehicle for using up bananas and apples, two of the most wasted fruits, plus any tomatoes that have seen better days.
This recipe is all about balancing the spices, gentle chilli heat and the nutty crunch of almonds. It’s delicious served with creamy polenta.
Prep 15 min
Cook 45 min
600g venison mince
Salt and black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 chipotle chillies, deseeded, simmered in water for 15-20 minutes and finely chopped
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes (or cut out the softening parts of tomatoes you might otherwise throw away)
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
30g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 glass red wine
½ tsp brown sugar (optional)
60g blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
Take the venison out of the fridge ahead of time and season generously. Warm half the olive oil in a large casserole pan and gently fry the onion for 10 minutes, seasoning generously.
Meanwhile, peel the apple and banana, cut out any bruises or black bits, and dice. Add to the onion, along with the garlic, chipotle, ground spices and raisins. Saute for five minutes, stirring, then add the rest of the oil and stir in the meat. Turn up the heat and fry, breaking up the mince with a spoon, until the meat is browned all over and smelling delicious.
Add the tomatoes, vinegar, half a glass of water, the chocolate and wine, and simmer gently for 20-25 minutes, adding a touch more water if the mixture starts to look too dry. Taste for seasoning and add half a teaspoon of brown sugar, if the sauce needs a little sweetness.
Sprinkle over the almonds and serve with fast-cook polenta and some grated pecorino (to mimic Mexico’s queso anejo).