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Mexican Picadillo

A simple skillet meal with bold flavor.

I don’t know about you but I find that a quick and delicious skillet meal is always a great thing to have in your repertoire, and picadillo is a particularly great solution when you need an easy meal that also satisfies. It’s more or less a ground beef hash, and you can serve it with tortillas or beans and rice, but it’s plenty filling enough to eat all on its own. It takes just thirty minutes to throw together, but the best thing about it is all the bold and comforting flavor that comes out of a single skillet.

Many Latin American countries have a version of picadillo. While you might find green olives and capers in Cuban picadillo or rum-soaked raisins in Peurto Rican picadillo, in Mexican picadillo you’ll usually find potatoes and other assorted veggies like peas and carrots. The word picadillo comes from the Spanish word picar, which means “to mince,” so what you’ll find they all have in common is ground beef mixed with other chopped ingredients, and typically a tomato base.

And it couldn’t be much simpler to make! You just heat up a skillet and brown some ground beef before adding your veggies into the mix – in this case that’s potatoes, onion, and carrots. Once those have softened, you get to adding that bold and zesty flavor with things like garlic, cumin, oregano, and tomato paste. You can let it reduce down or leave it fairly saucy – it’s up to you, but I like a little extra sauce when it’s served over rice.

I also like some sweet peas stirred in at the end, but this is really the type of versatile dish where you can add and subtract based on whatever you happen to have hanging out in the fridge. Bell pepper or jalapeño wouldn’t be amiss here, but pretty much whatever you add in you’ll end up with a warm and comforting dish that’s no trouble at all to make.

Serves 4

10m prep time

20m cook time

Rated 4.3 out of 5
Rated by 28 reviewers
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Rice or tortillas for serving
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add ground beef. Season with salt and pepper and cook until barely pink, and drain fat as needed.
  2. Add onion, potatoes, and carrots. Continue cooking until vegetables are soft and meat is cooked through. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
  3. Stir in tomato sauce and beef broth. Add cumin, oregano, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cover and let cook 10 minutes.
  4. Remove lid, stir in peas, and continue cooking uncovered until potatoes are tender and most of the liquid has cooked down.
  5. Serve with tortillas or rice and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from My Latin Table.

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