Picadillo

Dinner, Healthy, Whole 30

Picadillo

I grew up eating renditions of this Picadillo recipe. Every couple of years, as I got older, the recipe’s identity evolved from crazy plain to what you see now. I guess you could say I went from super picky, pain in the ass eater to normal human and this recipe was along for the ride during that entire journey.

When I was a teeny kid, my mother would make picadillo and it’d simply be fried diced potato with ground beef over rice. (I hated raisins, boiled eggs and olives…and tomatoes.)

During my preteen years, I warmed up to boiled eggs so that was added, along with the tomato base that is so well known in picadillo and honestly essential.

In my late teen years, I became ok with the addition of olives. But it wasn’t until my twenties when I fully embraced the raisins, which now I think are crucial.

What is Picadillo?

Well, the literal translation makes sense because everything in this dish is “picado” (translation: chopped). The potatoes are picado, the egg is picado and the meat is all chopped up, too. A lot of different countries make renditions of a picadillo. Colombians put it in empanadas. Peruvians put it in papa rellenas. Puerto Ricans put in empanadas and alcapurria.

Everyone has their own version, and those version have different versions depending on families, neighborhoods. People can argue and discuss these nuances and slight changes for days. Personally, I enjoy hearing about the differences. I think they’re interesting. 

I learned how to make this dish from my mom. She learned it from her father. And I recently learned that he learned how to make this recipe from his Cuban neighbor and friend.

My family moved to Atlanta, Georgia and lived in a part of town called “La Pastorita.” While mainly Cuban, this neighborhood consisted of a lot of other Latinos who had just moved to United States. All of them congregated into this teeny tiny neighborhood so they could live amongst each other and feel comfortable. There were Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians, Ecuadorians…and obviously Peruvians (my family lol).

When my grandfather loved to cook; this dish was something quick and fast, a weeknight meal before that term even existed! It’s fast and easy and if you have picky children or you are a picky grown-up, it’s flexible—simply add what you like, leave out what you hate.

The version you see is what my adult self LOVES. And it’s probably the closest to the authentic original that is so popular in Cuban restaurant.

How to Make Picadillo?

– This recipe starts with dicing up potatoes and frying them in the pan in a few tablespoons of oil. After they’re crispy, the potatoes are removed from the pan and set aside (we’re going to add them back at the end!)
– Next up, we add the sofrito (onion, red bell pepper, garlic) and cook it until softened.
– The ground beef goes in. I used a 90%/10%, grass-fed organic beef. Surprisingly, I’ve also have made this with ground bison which was so delicious. I bet you could even use ground chicken.
– Spices and salt go in, along with tomato paste and beef broth. This makes it nice and thick and saucy. This is the time when I like to add the raisins (in today’s recipe I used golden raisins because I’m fancy but regular ones will do, too) because it allows them to simmer in the sauce and rehydrate a bit.
– At the end, I like to add in the diced egg, the crispy potatoes, the olives and a teeny bit of red wine vinegar for some zing.

One thing that is mandatory with this dish is for it to be served on a bed of rice. It’s comfort central and picadillo is probably the sole reason why my obsession with rice runs so deep.

Picadillo

Picadillo

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5 from 4 votes
Cuban-style Picadillo is a family favorite. Flavorful ground beef, spices, olives, boiled egg, raisins in a tomato sauce served over rice.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serving Size: 4 people
Calories: 225kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil, (I like to use grape seed or avocado oil)
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 large yellow onion (or 1 small yellow onion), peeled and diced
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, (I used 90/10 lean grass-fed beef)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth or water
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup green olives
  • 2 large eggs, boiled and diced

Directions

  • In a large sauté pan, set over medium heat, add the oil. When hot, add the diced russet potato and cook until crispy on both sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the pan and transfer to a sheet of paper towels or on top of a clean kitchen towel to drain.
  • In the same large sauté pan, add more oil, if needed. Add the onion, red bell pepper and garlic; cook until softened about 5 minutes. Add the meat and break up with a large spoon until it’s into crumbled ground beef. Add the salt and spices and give it a mix. Next, add the tomato paste, broth and golden raisins. Mix until all combined. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, we really want the flavors to combine and marry.
  • Lastly, mix in the red wine vinegar, crispy potatoes and diced boiled egg. Give it a taste and adjust the salt according to your liking. Serve alongside rice and tostones or maduros.

Notes

Alternative versions: 
Like I said in the blog post, I've had this numerous ways, leaving things out if I don't have them. If you don't like the egg, leave it out! If you don't have raisins, leave it out. 
If you want to make this very Keto and Whole 30, make it with sweet potatoes vs. regular potatoes. This recipe is very flexible. 
 
CourseDinner
CuisineCuban
Keywordcuban picadillo, picadillo, picadillo beef, picadillo recipe, what is picadillo
Did you make this recipe?Tag @acozykitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #acozykitchen

If you make this, let me know on Instagram! 

Other Cuban/Latin favorites: 

Ropa Vieja 

Crispy Plantains with Mojo Sauce

Pollo Frito a la Criolla 

Picadillo

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33 Comments

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  • Avatar
    Reply Charlotte November 10, 2014 at 2:45 am

    Somehow I’ve never heard of this, but it looks gorgeous!
    I’m still back in the can’t stand olives stage, though.

  • Avatar
    Reply Tori@Gringalicious.com November 10, 2014 at 3:06 am

    I am so excited about this recipe. It’s very similar to the filling for traditional Chilean empanadas but it comes without all of the work. So trying it. Pinned!

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme November 10, 2014 at 10:09 am

      Ahh yes, pretty much every country in South America has a rendition of Picadillo. Colombians do too!

  • Avatar
    Reply Becky Winkler November 10, 2014 at 3:16 am

    Yum! As a kid I did not like any of those things either (I didn’t even like beef until my twenties). I’m still iffy about olives, but would probably love them in this since there’s so much other good stuff going on!

  • Avatar
    Reply jenna @ just j.faye November 10, 2014 at 5:49 am

    This looks delicious and oh so comforting! I’m curious about the olives, raisins, and eggs in here, but think that I would really, really like it!

  • Avatar
    Reply Jessi November 10, 2014 at 9:38 am

    I have never heard of this dish before, but it looks great! I have been thinking about new dishes to try with ground beef, and my husband LOVES eggs for dinner, so I am going to try this out next week!

  • Avatar
    Reply stephanie @ iamafoodblog November 10, 2014 at 9:39 am

    this sounds incredibly comforting. i’m not the hugest fan of raisins yet, but i would totally give this a try because anything over a bowl of rice is like a hug for your tummy 🙂
    xoxo

  • Reply Picadillo - The Recipe Daily November 10, 2014 at 9:48 am

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    Reply Iris November 10, 2014 at 9:49 am

    I grew up eating this and using it as a filler for empanadas, pasteles and a lasagne type dish where sweet really ripe plantains are used instead of sheets of pasta. Although I grew up in Brooklyn,NY these ideas came from another beautiful island Puerto Rico.

  • Avatar
    Reply Lydia November 10, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Uh, yes please. My mom grew up in Rio and would make her Brazilian version of this when I was a kid. And the olives give it a nice kick of umami. Classic comfort food!

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme November 10, 2014 at 10:11 am

      Ahh yes, good description as to what the olives provide: umami!

  • Avatar
    Reply Alexis November 10, 2014 at 10:14 am

    I love Picadillo! It was always a staple at my grandparents house in Florida. I don’t think we made ours with the egg though, so I’m excited to try it!

  • Avatar
    Reply Jennifer @ Show Me the Yummy November 10, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Wow! This looks so flavorful. I’ve never had picadillo, but this looks right up my alley!

  • Avatar
    Reply fen November 10, 2014 at 10:43 am

    My husband is not a fan of beef — could this work with lamb, chicken or pork?

    • Avatar
      Reply Iris November 10, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      Pork is even better

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme November 11, 2014 at 8:22 am

      Oh I haven’t had it with anything other than ground beef but I bet ground lamb would be delicious!

  • Avatar
    Reply Nicole November 10, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Oh man, my mom used to make this all the time (with fresh flour tortillas, too)! But just the ground beef, tomato base, and potatoes. (Cheers to being a picky eater as a kid!). I’ve never heard of making it with raisins, though. I’ll gave to give it a whirl! 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply Frank Mosher November 11, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Very nice recipe of Spanish origin. I’m certain you meant to say “Cuban-American” i.e. Florida-based restaurants. The “real” Cubans would die and go to heaven for a meal such as this, and it would be entirely new for them.

  • Avatar
    Reply ileana November 11, 2014 at 4:27 am

    I loved picadillo growing up. Never had a version with egg in it though – sounds good!

  • Reply Real Food Meal Plan: November 15, 2014 November 15, 2014 at 9:46 am

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  • Avatar
    Reply carrie November 26, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    This takes me back to my Cuban Grandmother’s kitchen. Can’t wait to try the addition of egg.

  • Avatar
    Reply Valeria May 17, 2015 at 11:15 am

    This dish is so GOOD!! I can’t wait to make it again…the egg on top is a great touch. WOW! This blog is awesome 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply Michele November 29, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    5 stars
    I just made my (Cuban) Abuela’s picadillo last night for my (non-Latino) husband’s birthday. It’s one of his favorite dishes, and it’s a great, quick,weeknight option. She never added potatoes or eggs, so that’s new to me. Do yourself a favor and add the olives even if you don’t like them! I can’t stand olives and give mine to Hubby, but the flavor you get from the brine is irreplaceable. I always add a splash from the jar. I use Goya manzanilla olives with pimentos.

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme November 30, 2017 at 10:16 am

      Ahhh so I’ve made picadillo a lot since this post and now I add olives and I LOVE THEM. They add a nice briny flavor to them. I need to try that Goya. I moved out of Florida and now I all the groceries stores near me don’t carry them. 🙁

      • Avatar
        Reply Michele November 30, 2017 at 10:24 am

        Goya also makes jars of pimento stiffed manzanilla olives with capers. They’re a great addition, but my picky little one won’t eat them. Maybe when he’s older!

  • Avatar
    Reply ann November 7, 2019 at 7:18 am

    Definitely going to make this but fyi (with all due respect): you neglected to list an egg in your ingredients.

  • Avatar
    Reply Zamarie Vazquez November 8, 2019 at 11:53 am

    5 stars
    Comfort food for us Puerto Ricans, part of our week meal plan…for those not can of the raisins give it a try with chopped sweet fried plantains! BTW we call empanadillas the fritter that is filled with picadillo or any other filling (an empanada is what you may know as a chicken fried steak, either with chicken or beef).

  • Reply Currently Crushing On. - Best Food & Cooking - Kitchenpedia.co November 9, 2019 at 3:50 am

    […] I’ve been dying to try picadillo. […]

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    Reply Mariya Zafirova November 9, 2019 at 9:17 am

    I need to make this!

    Mariya | https://www.brunetteondemand.com/

  • Reply 10 Recipes To Try This Week | 11/10/19 | ¡HOLA! JALAPEÑO¡HOLA! JALAPEÑO November 10, 2019 at 10:36 am

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