This Mexican-style Picadillo recipe needs no headnotes. If you haven’t had it before, it’s hands down one of the best recipes you’ll ever make. Spoon it into some hard taco shells and load it with a generous amount of shredded cheddar cheese, and it will instantly transport you to childhood/happiness.
A few years ago, my best friend Matt introduced me to his moms Picadillo recipe. It made an appearance in my Eat What You Want cookbook and I think it’s safe to say that anyone who’s made it is instantly obsessed. Fast forward to this past summer, I made a version of it with my friends Kyle and Courtney while they were visiting LA! This time we turned it into tacos.
Kyle, a restauranteur in Dallas has a version of these tacos on his menu at Joe Leo’s. So it felt only fitting that I turn the recipe from my book into tacos so we can all make them at home if you’re not within driving distance of Joe Leo’s in Dallas!!
Picadillo is basically a Spanish / Latin / Mexican hash. It’s ground beef and any number of variations of veggies mixed in. EVERY Latin culture has a version of it and it’s different from place to place. Matt’s mom makes the best in my opinion and yes perhaps I am biased but I’m sticking with it!
What is Mexican Picadillo?
Mexican Picadillo is an incredibly versatile dish. The base consists of ground beef, tomatoes, and potatoes. Different regions will have variations to the recipe, like adding carrots or various types of peppers like jalapeños.
What is the difference between Mexican and Cuban Picadillo?
Two of the most common styles you’ll see are Mexican picadillo, like this recipe, and Cuban picadillo. The Cuban variety has the addition of raisins, capers, and green olives, whereas the Mexican version includes potatoes and packs a bit more heat. There are many variations to the recipe unique to every region in every country.
How to make Picadillo?
This Mexican-style recipe couldn’t be easier to make and comes together in 35 minutes or less. Start by adding the tomatoes and chicken stock in a blender and puree until smooth. Next, in a large, heavy bottom pan, add the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and ground pork to the pan and break it into pieces with a wooden spoon.
Once the meat has browned, add the onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, and jalapeño peppers and sauté for 8-10 minutes until the carrots and potatoes start to cook down. Stir in the spices and pour the tomato mixture into the pan. Bring it to a boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the mixture for 10-15 minutes until the carrots and potatoes are fully cooked. Season it with a little more salt and fresh cilantro.
What to serve with Picadillo?
My favorite way to serve picadillo as the main dish is in hard taco shells with a boatload of shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top. You can also serve Mexican picadillo with rice and beans, over mashed potatoes, on a tostada, or swap it for the taco meat in a taco salad. As for sides, Chili Lime Creamed Corn or an easy Avocado Corn Salad would be delicious to serve with picadillo.
What you’ll need:
- 5 roma tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 yellow onion roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 2 medium carrots roughly chopped
- 1 medium-large russet potato peeled and chopped
- 2 jalapeno peppers finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Salt & pepper
- Hard taco shells to serve
- 1 large block cheddar cheese finely shredded
- 1 head iceberg lettuce finely shredded
For the Sauce:
- Add the tomatoes and chicken stock in a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
For the Meat:
- In a large heavy bottom pan, add olive oil over medium high heat.
- Add the ground beef and ground pork. Break it into pieces with a wooden spoon and cook till browned. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, and jalapeño peppers and sauté for 8-10 minutes until the carrots and potatoes start to cook down.
- Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and season with salt and pepper, stir till combined. Mix in tomato mixture and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce heat to a simmer, cook 10-15 minutes until the carrots and potatoes are fully cooked.
- Adjust salt to taste and add in cilantro.
- Make tacos + serve.