Picadillo, this is what we call the meat filling in Puerto Rico. We use this filling for everything from empanadas to stuffed potato balls, even lasagna. Today we will cover how to make this flavorful filling.
In today's post:
What is Picadillo?
Picadillo literally translates to chopped into tiny pieces. It is ground beef cooked with onions, garlic, herbs, and spices. As the ground beef browns, we break the big clumps of meat to create a loose chopped meat mixture. But picadillo can also be used on its own, in tacos, or as a really flavorful chili base.
Varieties of picadillo
The traditional picadillo consists of the ingredients I listed above; ground beef, onions, garlic, herbs such as culantro and oregano, and spices like cumin, coriander, paprika, and annatto. Some picadillos will include the addition of hard-boiled eggs, raisins, and prunes. It has been my experience to find this type of empanadas and stuffed potato balls. Of course, if you are making it to fill a lasagna, you are more than welcomed to omit the eggs and raisins and sprinkle some crushed red pepper.
How to make a picadillo, the easy way
Start by bringing a skillet, saute pan, or frying pan to medium-high heat. Place one pound of ground beef onto the skillet. Do not add oil. Allow the natural fat from the beef to dissolve onto the pan. With a meat chopper or your cooking spoon, break the meat into smaller pieces. To the meat, sprinkle salt, pepper, paprika, powdered garlic, powdered onion, cumin, coriander, and annatto powder. Mix well and continue to break down any large lumps in the meat. Once all the pink of the meat has browned, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of sofrito and chopped olives. Saute the meat for a few more minutes to incorporate the flavors. Turn off the heat and set a side to be used in any given recipe.
Here are a few recipes to use with picadillo;
- Adobo, The Key to Amazing Puerto Rican Flavor
- Sofrito, The Not-So-Secret Puerto Rican Secret Ingredient
- How to Make a Delicious Eggplant Casserole
- One pound of ground beef
- 1 tablespoon ground garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon of ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon of annatto
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 teaspoon of coriander
- 1 tablespoon of sofrito
- 12 or as you like pimento-stuffed manzanilla olives green olives
- 1 cooked potato diced
- 2 hard-boiled eggs optional
- Raisins to taste (optional)
- Heat the skillet to medium heat.
- Add ground beef and begin to sear.
- Start breaking up the clumps of beef with a spoon, spatula, or a meat chopper.
- Once the meat begins to sweat and brown, add all the spices and sofrito.
- Continue to cook until meat is fully cooked and browned.
- Add olives, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and raisins if you would like to add that distinct Puerto Rican flavor.