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Slow-Cooker Cuban Picadillo (with hidden, heart, liver, and kidney)

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Picadillo is a spiced ground beef and vegetable hash and is a traditional dish in Spain, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Cuba, and, interestingly, the Philippines. This recipe is for the Cuban style and sneaks in a healthy dose of grass-fed beef organ meats! It is so flavorful and well-spiced that you can't even tell the heart, liver, and kidney hidden alongside the ground beef. This is a slow cooker version, but you can also make it on the stovetop. The mix of ground grass-fed beef liver, heart, and kidney that I added gave the meal a complex, deep, extra "meaty" (for lack of a better word to describe it) flavor that no one would have been able to tell was due to the organ meats.

This recipe uses 3 lbs of ground beef and 1 lb of mixed organs (ground grass-fed beef heart, liver, and kidneys). You can omit the organs (or use an extra pound of ground beef instead) if you wish, but I promise, you (or whoever you are feeding) won't be able to tell they are in there at this proportion. Or, if you really like organs, you can adjust the recipe to use 2 lbs of ground beef with 1 lb of organs, or even make it a 1:1 ratio, but that will alter the flavor significantly (not necessarily in a bad way, though).

Grass-fed beef heart, liver, and kidney.

Most recipes that use ground beef in a slow cooker tell you that first you *must* brown the beef in a skillet and drain the fat before adding the meat to the crock. I think this is nuts, and defeats the whole purpose of using a slow cooker! I don't want to have to dirty any extra dishes, pots, or pans if I am using the slow cooker. The whole point is to be able to just throw ingredients in the crock, turn it on, and come back at the end of the day with a complete meal ready to eat. The trick to avoid having to brown the meat in a pan ahead of time is to break the ground beef up into small pieces and mix it up well with all the veggies.  

I used my 6 quart Hamilton Beach slow cooker (affiliate link) and everything barely  fit. But, it did fit and cooked fine. You will have to scale this recipe down if you have a smaller slow cooker.

Many Cuban picadillo recipes also include raisins, but I have omitted them because I prefer the flavor without them. In this recipe, about 1 cup of raisins would've been the correct amount. Try to buy organic if you can, since grapes are on the EWG's Dirty Dozen list for high-pesticide residue. 

Spanish Manzanilla olives are best, but any green olive will do if you can't find them. Try to buy a brand that doesn't add a bunch of chemical junk to the brine. You can buy the Goya brand (pictured) from my affiliate partner, and the ingredients are just olives, water, salt, and lactic acid.  

This recipe is suitable for a 21-Day Sugar Detox or Whole30 and is paleo, primal, and gluten-free! 

Slow-Cooker Cuban Picadillo (with hidden heart, liver, and kidney)

Recipe by Amanda Torres

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 6-8 hours

Total time: 6.5-8.5 hours


  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 1 lb ground organ meat mix (heart, liver, kidney). Optional: omit and use 1 additional pound of ground beef
  • 4 cups diced onion (about 2 onions)
  • 4 cups diced bell peppers, any colors (about 4 peppers)
  • 4 cups diced, de-seeded tomatoes (about 4 tomatoes)
  • 5 1/2 oz jar Spanish manzanilla olives, pitted, with brine
  • 8-12 cloves garlic, freshly pressed or finely minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 4-5 leaves dried bay laurel
  • 1 tsp unrefined salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, for garnish

Cooking Directions

  1. The only prep work you have to do is to wash and dice all of your vegetables (onions, bell peppers, tomatoes). You can add them to the crock in any order you like. De-seed the tomatoes before adding them to the crock.
  2. Once the crock is about half full of vegetables, add the spices (cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, bay leaves, garlic, cinnamon, and cloves) and the jar of olives (with brine). Stir veggies to mix. Chop olives if you desire, but it's not necessary.
  3. At this point, start adding meat to the crock. Break the ground beef off into small (grape or gumball sized) pieces and mix with the vegetables and spices. If using organ mix, add now also and mix.
  4. Finish chopping vegetables and add them to the crock along with the remaining ground beef, mixing as well as you can as the crock fills up.
  5. Set on low and cook for 6-8 hours.
  6. Use a large spoon to stir the final product well and break up any clumps of meat that cooked together. This is the compromise for not pre-browning the ground beef in a pan before adding to the crock. The flavor of the dish is not affected by not browning in a pan, and you save time and dirty dishes by just putting the raw meat directly in the crock.
  7. Serve alone, with cauliflower rice (see below for recipe), tostones (recipe on this blog SOON), maduros (link to recipe below), or white rice (preferably cooked in bone broth).
  8. Tastes great reheated for several days and also freezes very well.
Shown with a side of cauliflower rice and cilantro

Shown with a side of cauliflower rice and cilantro

Cauliflower Rice with Cilantro


  • 1 head cauliflower, riced in food processor or grated
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • several Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro (from about a handful)

Cooking Directions

  1. Chop cauliflower into small pieces that will fit in your food processor. "Rice" them by pulsing processor several times. Be careful not to completely pulverize it!
  2. If you don't have a food processor, you can also use a cheese grater, or, if you have time to spare, you can chop it with a knife.
  3. Heat coconut oil in a saute pan over medium-low about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add riced cauliflower and salt to hot oil and mix well to combine. Add additional oil if necessary.
  5. Stir continuously as cauliflower cooks. You want it to be soft, but not mushy. Cook time will vary based on how finely chopped your cauliflower is. Check it about every minute after the first 3 minutes to make sure you don't overcook it.
  6. Just before removing from heat, add chopped cilantro and stir well to mix.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

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