Puerto Rican Picadillo - A Dish With a Million Uses
Picadillo (literally translated as "finely chopped") is a basic component of any number of other Puerto Rican recipes. This seasoned, ground beef is incorporated into things like Pastelon de Maduro, Pastelillos, Pasteles, and any other number of typical dishes. It incorporates all the great Puerto Rican flavors--sofrito, achiote, adobo--and forms the perfect base upon which to build your perfect Puerto Rican meal.
1 lb 80/20 Beef Ground Chuck
1 medium cubanelle pepper, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
½ medium onion, chopped finely
¼ cup olives, chopped finely
⅓ cup sofrito (see recipe HERE)
⅓ cup tomato sauce
1 tsp adobo
1 tbs achiote oil
1 tbs vegetable oil
Salt, to taste
In making picadillo, the first thing we need to do is chop up our veggies. As the name picadillo suggests, we want to finely chop everything we are adding to the meat. So go ahead and finely dice your garlic, your onion, your pepper, and your olives. As best as possible, try to chop all of your veggies the same size, so everything cooks evenly.
Once your veggies are chopped, let’s go ahead and brown the meat. Heat up a wide sauce pan on medium high heat and, once hot, add your vegetable oil and achiote oil. The oil should shimmer as you add it, indicating the pan is hot enough. Now add your ground beef and begin sauteing it.
As you saute it, use your spatula to break the meat into little pieces. Again, the name “picadillo” implies that everything is finely chopped, so we want to finely mince the meat as we cook it.
As you are cooking the meat, you’ll see a lot of liquid building up in the bottom of the pan. Keep cooking your meat until most of this liquid has evaporated and then add your diced veggies. Stir to incorporate your veggies and then let this saute for 3-4 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
Next add your sofrito and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Finally, add your tomato sauce and your adobo and let it saute another couple of minutes, until any remaining liquid has evaporated.
Now taste your picadillo for salt and adjust as necessary. Once seasoned, remove your picadillo from the heat and let it cool down. Once cool, and if you aren’t planning to eat it immediately, move your picadillo to an airtight container for storage. As long as you put it right into the refrigerator, picadillo will keep for a couple of days and you can use it for any number of Puerto Rican dishes. Enjoy!
Check out our instructional video, showing how to make this recipe step-by-step HERE.