Picadillo Cottage Pie Creates Transatlantic Fusion

Good Bite

J.R.'s Old Packinghouse, 987 South Packinghouse Road, Sarasota, 941-371-9358

The headline seems absurd at first.

How on earth can English and Cuban cuisine possibly fuse in a way that makes sense? But consider that a cottage pie already contains minced spiced beef that’s only a few ingredients removed from picadillo. In a cottage pie, the beef is often cooked along with bay leaves, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, carrots, celery, tomatoes, onion and garlic. In a Cuban-style picadillo, just add olives, raisins, green bell peppers, and perhaps some capers and a dash of cumin. And in cases when diced potatoes are added to picadillo, which happens occasionally, it shares yet another ingredient with cottage pie.

J.R.’s Old Packinghouse, a longtime Sarasota headquarters for Cuban staples, realized this thought experiment with their May special. Listed as a shepherd’s pie—which is historically made with lamb rather than beef—the dish includes a hearty base of Cuban-style beef picadillo topped with two heaping scoops of mashed potatoes. The whole platter gets topped with cheese and tossed in a broiler for a minute before serving. The result is a dish that makes a great deal of sense, even if it evokes absurd daydreams of Irish step dancers pounding the floorboards in guayaberas as old men sit at tables singing limericks with cigars in their mouths.

J.R.'s Old Packinghouse, 987 South Packinghouse Road, Sarasota, 941-371-9358

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