Tuesday, October 12, 2021

COZY CARIBBEAN KITCHEN MYSTERY: Raquel V. Reyes Guest Post with Recipe

Raquel V. Reyes: Cozy Caribbean Kitchen Mystery - Recipe for Picadillo de Pavo

Miriam Quiñones is many things: a mom, a Cuban-American, a doctor (the PhD kind), a food anthropologist (think High on the Hog), a cook show star, and the main character of Mango, Mambo, and Murder. When her BFF gets her a part-time (that turns FT) stint on a Spanish-language morning show cooking segment, Miriam pushes back that “I’m a home cook not a celebrity chef.” I feel her! I, too, am a home cook not a trained chef. Yet here I am writing the Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series. And like Miriam I’m rolling with it, learning new skills, and having fun. There are many dishes and snacks mentioned in the book but only four recipes in the back of Mango, Mambo, and Murder. Here is one of them. It is a staple in my house, and I share it with the home cook in mind. It is easy to make and very satisfying. 

Picadillo de Pavo 

In my Cuban-American & Puerto Rican house, I call it Latin Sloppy Joe. This recipe is mine as a working parent that doesn’t have hours to prep and cook. It is also a little healthier than the traditional beef version as I am not a big fan of red meat. (I probably eat beef only 2-3 times a year.)

Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: appox 30 mins. Prep your ingredients for the picadillo. Start your rice then start your picadillo. They should both be done within minutes of each other. Serve the picadillo over the rice and with a side of platanos maduros (aka amarillos) or an avocado salad. 


1 lb ground turkey Olive oil 

½ a large, sweet onion or 1 Spanish (yellow) onion 

1 jar of sofrito Salt to taste 

½ tbsp adobo 

1 tsp cumin or to taste 

3 cloves of garlic 

12-15 green olives 


Drizzle oil into pan and sweat the thinly sliced onion and crushed garlic. Add meat and powdered spices. When browned and separated add the jar of sofrito. Use a little water or vino seco to get the remainder of the sofrito from the jar. (Shake and pour slurry into pan) Add olives and let simmer until rice is done. Some people also add raisins. (I am team olives, but I don’t hate the sweetness the raisins add. I just pick them out before eating my dinner.)

Rice is the traditional side to accompany the picadillo, but mashed potatoes work, too. This is how I learned to make the perfect rice. Rinse your rice. The extra starch on the rice is what makes it sticky and clumpy. Follow the ratio (usual 1 rice to 2 waters) and add a generous drizzle of olive oil and 3-4 cloves of garlic. Salt to taste. 

Every Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican household probably has a rice cooker if not two, one large for parties and one small for family dinner. They are essential and make rice perfectly each time. Growing up in Miami, rice cookers were called Hitachis because that was the brand that made them. Now there are dozens of brands and a variety of colors. I think I’ve seen a pink Hello Kitty one. But mine growing up was a buttery almond color.

Picadillo is so versatile. It can be served over rice or baked with a mashed potato top layer or served on a bun like a sloppy joe, or used as the filling for empanadas. 


Raquel V. Reyes writes stories with Latina characters. Her Cuban-American heritage, Miami, and the Caribbean feature prominently in her work. Raquel is a co-chair for SleuthFest. Her short stories appear in various anthologies, including Mystery Most Theatrical, Midnight Hour, and Trouble No More. Mango, Mambo, and Murder is the first in the Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series. Find her across social media platforms as @LatinaSleuths.

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