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'Three Guys' Bowl Pick? Sloppy Joes, Cuban Style

Super Bowl weekend is a time for hearty fare. Pots of spicy chili, piles of barbecue, buffalo wings. Maybe even some Sloppy Joes. Who knows how many Bears and Colts fans are making up a batch right now? The Midwestern staple has a Cuban counterpart that's found in Miami, this year's Super Bowl city.

The "Three Guys from Miami" are brothers-in-law who have written books on Cuban cooking. Two of them, Jorge Castillo and Glenn Lindgren, join Debbie Elliott to talk about picadillo, the Cuban Sloppy Joe.

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Transcript

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

Super Bowl weekend is a time for hearty fare - pots of spicy chili, piles of barbecue, buffalo wings. Maybe even some Sloppy Joes. Who knows how many Bears and Colts fans are making up a batch right now? That Midwestern staple has a Cuban counterpart that's found in Miami, this year's Super Bowl host.

Mr. JORGE CASTILLO (Author): It is called picadillo. Picadillo is literally minced meat in Spanish.

ELLIOTT: That's Jorge Castillo. He's one of the three guys from Miami, brothers-in-law who have written books on Cuban cooking. Two of them, Castillo and Glenn Lindgren, join me for this week's food moment to talk about the Cuban Sloppy Joe.

Welcome to the program.

Mr. CASTILLO: Thanks for having us.

ELLIOTT: Can you give us some of your memories of this traditional Cuban dish?

Mr. CASTILLO: Yes, absolutely. This is the kind of dish that you would see in every Cuban kitchen pretty much during the week, simmering in a pot and ready for people to come in and help themselves. It's a delicious kind of a Cuban way of creating the soul food.

Mr. GLENN LINDGREN (Author): It's not a dish that you would serve to somebody that you're trying to impress, like if you're bringing the boss home. But if a family serves you picadillo, it's like they're saying you're part of our family now, and so it's a very welcoming dish. And it is delicious.

ELLIOTT: Glenn Lindgren, your accent gives you away a bit. You're not Cuban, we should say. How do you fit in this three guys from Miami scheme?

Mr. LINDGREN: Well, actually, we're three guys. We all married sisters. George and I married two sisters from a family in Iowa and Raul married George's sister. So we're all brothers-in-law.

ELLIOTT: And you all have a passion for food?

Mr. LINDGREN: You could look at our waist lines and tell that.

Mr. CASTILLO: Well, we don't call it waist line anymore. We call it happiness curve.

Mr. LINDGREN: Right.

ELLIOTT: Jorge Castillo, I've had picadillo before and it's got a much sweeter flavor than a Sloppy Joe. Tell me what goes into making it.

Mr. CASTILLO: Well, the important part is in addition to the meat, is the sufrito(ph), and the sufrito is the combination of what we call the Cuban trinity. So you have then the name of the onion, the garlic and the green pepper, and of course the (unintelligible) will be everything else, which is the olive oil and the tomatoes, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, olives and raisins. Put it in a crock pot, cover and let simmer. And the longer you keep it there simmering, the more the flavors are going to get together and taste better.

ELLIOTT: Now who made it in your family?

Mr. CASTILLO: Everybody in my family made it, but my most favorite one is the one that my Aunt Pilar used to make. I used to go to her house and she'd have one of these big old colonial houses with doors and windows that were oversized, and you could smell it two, three houses before you get to it. And I would always be mouth watering, anticipating my visit to my Aunt Pilar.

ELLIOTT: Now, this was in Cuba, when you were a child.

Mr. CASTILLO: That was in Cuba. Uh-huh.

ELLIOTT: And now that so many Cubans are living in Miami, it's a very popular dish there as well?

Mr. CASTILLO: Well, the moment you to get to (unintelligible) and roll down the window, that's what you smell. No, it is very popular. It's everywhere.

And actually, you have several options to serve it. You can serve it on rice, of course, and everybody will be just piling it up. But you can also serve it on a Cuban bread, and the Cuban bread is similar to the loaf of French bread but not quite as thick on the crust.

Then you cut that long piece of bread into smaller sandwiches and pile it up on a serving plate and you see how soon they go.

Mr. LINDGREN: Don't forget the tostones, which is fried green plantain. That's part of every Cuban party.

Mr. CASTILLO: Yes, absolutely. And since I'm going to have so many people coming, I'm going to use my turkey fryer to put as many tostones in it and fry them all at once so people that just come back asking for more when I'm cooking them.

ELLIOTT: Jorge Castillo and Glenn Lindgren, two of the three guys from Miami, one of whom now lives in Minnesota. You can find their recipe for picadillo on our Web site, NPR.org.

Thanks so much for talking with us, gentlemen.

Mr. CASTILLO: Thanks.

Mr. LINDGREN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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