The first time I made picadillo, I had no idea I was making picadillo. I remember that I threw some ground beef into a pan and started cooking it up without knowing what I was making for dinner. I looked around the kitchen to see what else I had on hand. Diced potatoes and green beans went into the pan, along with some salt and pepper but it was missing something to tie it together and add some more flavor. I found a jar of salsa and dumped some in.
As I mixed everything around in the sizzling pan, Carlos came up behind me. Now, when Carlos is hungry, he isn’t fond of what he calls my “inventions” – so I was ready for him to complain, but to my surprise he said, “Oh! You’re making picadillo. I love picadillo. Are you going to make rice, too?”
“Yes, of course,” I said, grabbing the rice from the cabinet.
And that’s how I found out the dish that I “invented” that night, had already been invented, (and that thankfully, Carlos likes it.) So, here’s my recipe which I have changed here and there over the years for an easy and affordable mid-week picadillo that will fill you up and satisfy even picky eaters.
Picadillo, (Carne Molida con Verduras Picadas)
1 lb. ground beef
2 to 3 cups potatoes, cooked and diced
1 cup green beans, cooked
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
1 tbs. minced garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tsp. oregano
2 bay leaves
1 cup hot water
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pan, brown the ground beef. If using very lean ground beef, you may need to add a little oil to the pan. Add garlic and onion when the meat is almost finished browning. Season with a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
2. Add potatoes, green beans, carrot, and green pepper to the pan. Stir to combine. (Remove temporarily from heat if you haven’t already prepared the tomato sauce.)
Note: We like the carrot to be a little crunchy, but if you prefer it tender, you may want to pre-cook the carrot before adding in.
3. In a bowl, combine tomato paste with hot water, oregano, and bay leaves. Taste and correct with salt as needed (I used about 1/4 tsp. of salt) then add to the pan with meat and vegetables over medium-high heat.
4. Simmer on high for 1 to 2 minutes, allowing some of the liquid to cook away, then cover and remove from heat. Allow to sit a minute or two then taste and correct with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with white rice.