Turkey Picadillo with Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Picadillo YinYang

Like most Cuban food, when picadillo is presented as a main dish, it is usually plated alongside white rice, which serves to mop up the saucy overflow. However, shortly after we got married, I noticed my husband staring uncomfortably at the mound of rice left to eat on his plate at the end of dinner one night. When I asked if there was a problem, he responded that he was “too full” from the rest of the mouthwatering meal I prepared that evening to stomach finishing the rice.   As newlyweds, we’re often told that the first year of marriage is the hardest, and it was clear that my husband was trying not to stir the pot. It occurred to me that he might not be a huge fan of plain white rice. The next day, I planned to make picadillo for dinner, and knew he would love it, but wouldn’t give it a fair try if I served it with rice. So I set out to find a more suitable companion for this dish. True to his Midwestern roots, I knew my husband favors a diet rich with meat and potatoes. Also, potato balls, which are essentially a ball of mashed potatoes stuffed with picadillo, breaded and fried, are one of his favorite Cuban snacks. So, if I made a batch of my irresistibly creamy, Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, and served them alongside my picadillo, it would without a doubt please him. Sure enough, at dinner the next night my husband was inducted into the clean plate club, and I inched closer towards winning the award for wife of the year.

Classic picadillo is made with ground beef, but in an effort to lighten things up, my family swapped in the much more figure friendly turkey long ago. After trying our flavor-packed version, nobody has ever called us on our alternative ways, and for quite some time, this substitution remained a family secret. Even the naturally driest cut of turkey breast surrenders to the tenderizing ways of a low and slow simmering tomato-based bath, making Turkey Picadillo a stand-by, go-to protein in our house while I was a child. It also serves as the filling to many of Cuban cuisine’s most treasured snacks, including empanadas, meat pies, potato balls, and more.

This dish represents the essence of my Cuban influence melding with that of my meat-and-potatoes eating Midwestern husband’s. It’s the meet-me-in-the-middle compromise I was told I’d get used to making when I got married. This peacekeeper, Gandhi-style of cooking is one I particularly love experimenting with, as it presents a fun culinary challenge for me to find perfect pairings for the recipes from our respective sides.



5.0 from 1 reviews
Turkey Picadillo with Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
Recipe type: Main and Side
Cuisine: Cuban
Serves: 6-8
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Cuba meets the Midwest with this culture-clashing dish.
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1-1½ lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 8oz water
  • ¼ cup green olives with pimento, sliced (including the juice from the jar)
  • 1 tbs. oregano
  • 2 tbs. cumin
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
Mashed Potatoes:
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, finely diced.
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, but whole
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ sour cream
  • ⅛ cup half and half
  • salt and pepper
  1. Place a large pot on the stove over medium to high heat, and add the olive oil, letting it warm.
  2. Add the onions, bell pepper and garlic, and cook until onions and peppers are soft and translucent, about 5 min. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano.
  3. Add the ground turkey, and using the bottom and back of a wooden spoon, break up the turkey into small pieces as it browns.
  4. Add the tomato sauce, and fill the can with water, adding that to the pot, as well.
  5. Add the olives and olive juice, and stir well.
  6. Throw in the bay leaves, cover the pot, and simmer for ½ an hour to an hour, or until the turkey is soft and the liquid has reduced by about half.
  7. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.
Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
  1. Fill a large stock pot with cold water, and add the potato cubes, onion and garlic. Heat the pot over high heat, and add salt to flavor the water.
  2. Once the water starts to boil, cook until potatoes are fork-tender.
  3. Drain the contents of the pot in a colander, and using a potato ricer, rice the potatoes, onions and garlic into the now empty pot.
  4. Return the pot to the stove over low heat, and stir in grated parmesan, sour cream, and half and half. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve immediately.



Alaskan Salmon

baked salmon

This past summer, my husband and father braved the cold Alaskan air to take a fishing trip together. My husband has enjoyed fishing since his childhood, when he would go on special trips with his grandpa, and my dad, well… he likes the camaraderie. As someone who doesn’t love fish, I was hoping they would have a good time, share stories, bond, and maybe come home with a fillet or two. I can deal with a fillet or two. But oh, no. Not these guys. When they go fishing, they go fishing, and when they returned home, lucky me, I got a truck-load of freshly caught salmon.


Salmon, with all of its healthy omega 3’s and oils packed into its pink flesh, (which, by the way, is exactly what makes it taste so…well, fishy), makes it onto the list of my least favorite fish to eat and cook. But I found myself with an overflowing freezer full of cleaned, de-boned,  filleted salmon, and a husband eager to taste the fruits of his labor. So I was on a quest to find at least one fool-proof salmon recipe that even I, hater of all things “fishy” could tolerate, and even enjoy.Cleaning salmon

I asked the different chefs in my family, as I am the only one with this aversion, what they do to season their fish, and the consensus was to keep it simple. I can do that. I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. My cousin, Ilianita, suggested using fresh lemon juice and garlic, a classic mixture in Cuban cuisine. Others suggested herbs, and it was my dear husband who had the bright idea to add some wine to the mix (although, later he fessed to hearing the tip from one of the fishing pros in Alaska). I tried a few different variations, until I found the perfect blend. And let’s just say that this once fish-hater ate my whole darn piece of fish. Perhaps it was because this fish was so fresh, or maybe it was the marinade, but my salmon really didn’t taste fishy at all. Each bite was naturally buttery, and sweetly perfumed by the citrus and herbs.

I made this dish for a Shabbat dinner when one of my friends who keeps kosher was in attendance, as fish is considered pareve (that is, it is neither milk or meat, and can be prepared and eaten without too many restrictions). Served with couscous and a nice salad, it turns out fresh Alaskan Salmon is a real crowd-pleaser.

Now, what to do with the rest of the stash?

Fresh Caught Salmon


4.5 from 2 reviews
Baked Salmon
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
This is the winning recipe for fish that even non-fish-eaters will enjoy.
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 Tbs basil
  • 2 Tbs fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 4 6oz fillets of Alaskan Salmon
  1. In a resealable plastic bag, combine first 7 ingredients (garlic to salt/pepper). Close the bag, and massage it, so the ingredients mix to form a marinade.
  2. Place the salmon filets in the bag, and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Make a packet using tinfoil, and place each salmon filet plus a little bit of the marinade in its own packet. Seal tightly.
  5. Place the foil packets on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, or until fish is flaky.
  6. Serve immediately.