Puerto Rican Picadillo Recipe

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Picadillo is a hearty meat stew with a lot of flavor that originated in Puerto Rico.

It’s made with ground beef, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, parsley, and spices.

The mixture is then formed into balls and simmered until tender.

This recipe is perfect for any time of year since it can be prepared on the stovetop or baked in the oven.

If you want to get creative with this recipe, try adding shredded chicken, chorizo, or other meats.

You can also add beans, rice, or pasta to give the dish more substance and texture.

Puerto Rican Picadillo Recipe 1

What is a picadillo?

The word “picadillo” comes from the Spanish word “picar,” meaning “to bite.”

This dish was originally served by way of a toothpick, but nowadays it’s often served with bread or tortillas.

You can serve this delicious stew over white or brown rice, or even use it as a filling for tacos or burritos.

What is a Puerto Rican picadillo?

Puerto Rican picadillo translates to “little pockets” in Spanish.

This refers to the shape of the mixture when cooked.

When it’s ready, it resembles little balls of meat and vegetables.

This dish is often served during Christmas season because it makes an excellent accompaniment to traditional Puerto Rican dishes like arroz con pollo and ropa vieja.

The origins of the word picadillo are unclear, but it could have been influenced by the Spanish word piquillo meaning small.

What is in a Puerto Rican picadillo recipe?

The main ingredient in a Puerto Rican picadillo is ground beef.

This is what gives the stew its rich flavor.

Other ingredients include red bell pepper, green bell pepper, yellow onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, and oregano.

You will find these ingredients at most supermarkets.

You may also like to use crushed tomato paste instead of canned diced tomatoes for added flavor.

Just mix two tablespoons of the paste with three cups of water and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients and letting them cook together for another 30 minutes.

How do you make a Puerto Rican picadillo?

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef

2 tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup sofrito

1/2 cup yellow onion chopped

1/3 cup green bell pepper seeded & chopped

1/3 cup red bell pepper seeded & chopped

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce goya brand

1/4 cup olives with pimento sliced

cilantro for garnish

salt for taste

Instructions

To begin preparing the Puerto Rican picadillo, first wash the green bell pepper, red onion, garlic clove, jalapeño pepper, and tomato.

Then cut them into small pieces and place them in a bowl.

Next, add the ground pork, salt, black pepper, oregano, cumin, thyme, and bay leaf.

Mix well and set aside.

Next, peel and chop the potatoes and place them in another bowl.

Once they have been peeled, slice the potatoes into cubes.

Add them to the bowl with the pork mixture and mix well.

Lastly, add the diced tomatoes, cilantro, parsley, and lime juice.

Mix everything together thoroughly and let the mixture marinate overnight before cooking.

The next day, heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat.

When the pot is hot enough, add the olive oil, followed by the pork mixture.

Stir the pork mixture so that the flavors combine evenly.

Then turn down the heat to medium low and let the pork mixture simmer until it thickens up and no longer looks wet.

This could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on how juicy your pork is.

If the pork starts to stick to the pan, you may need to add some water to loosen it up.

Once the pork mixture is done, remove the bay leaves and discard them.

Then pour the pork mixture into a baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.

Place the dish in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

After two hours, preheat the broiler.

Remove the dish from the fridge and place it under the broiler for 5 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

When the pork mixture is heated through, remove it from the oven and put it back in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

While the pork mixture is cooling, prepare the green bell pepper and red onion by cutting them into thin strips.

Then place them in a bowl and toss them with the olive oil and salt.

Spread out the vegetables on a cookie sheet and bake them for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) until they soften slightly.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and set them aside to cool.

While the vegetables are cooling, dice the jalapeño pepper and red onion.

Toss the diced peppers and onions with the chopped tomatoes and stir them together.

Then toss the peppers and onions with the remaining ingredients except for the cheese.

Put the picadillo in the baking dish and top with the shredded mozzarella.

Tips for Making Picadillo

Making a great Puerto Rican dish like picadillo isn’t difficult, but there are some tips that will help you create a delicious meal.

Use fresh ingredients whenever possible.

This ensures your taste buds will receive maximum pleasure when eating the food.

Make sure you have all of your ingredients ready before starting the recipe.

For example, if you need chopped onion, wait until after you have diced the bell pepper and minced the garlic.

Having everything prepped makes the process of creating the final product easier.

If you are using dried herbs, make sure you use only half of what is called for because they tend to lose their potency over time.

When forming the balls, don’t pack them too tightly together.

This allows room for the flavors to meld together.

Don’t overcook the picadillo.

As soon as the meat starts to brown, take it off the heat. This prevents the dish from becoming dry and unappealing.

Where did the picadillo come from?

The word “picadillo” comes from the Spanish word “picar,” which means “pick” or “choose.”

This refers to how the stew was originally made by choosing certain ingredients and mixing them together in a bowl.

The word “picadillo” came about because the dish was so easy to prepare.

Puerto Ricans have always been known for their hearty meals, and the picadillo is no exception.

In fact, there are many different variations of picadillo recipes throughout Puerto Rico, but most include similar ingredients like ground beef, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, parsley, and spices.

Some versions contain other ingredients like rice, beans, and even cheese.

I personally prefer the classic version without any extras.

In Puerto Rico, the word “picadillo” is used to refer to any stew-like dish with a ground meat base.

For example, you may see a dish called “picadillo de puerco,” which translates to “ground pork stew.”

Another type of picadillo is called “picadillo de gallina,” which is made with ground chicken instead of beef.

Here are some tips for preparing this delicious stew.

The history of picadillo dates back to pre-colonial times when Spanish explorers brought the dish to the island.

They called it “picado” which means “chopped” so they chopped up the meat before cooking it.

This method gave the dish its distinctive texture.

Over time, the name evolved to “picada” which means “chopped” in Spanish.

Over time the dish became popular in Puerto Rico because it was cheap and filling.

Then during World War II, there was an influx of people moving to Puerto Rico from Cuba and Spain who didn’t have access to many foods due to rationing.

In order to feed everyone, the government began distributing food through the postal service and the military.

This made the diet of Puerto Ricans even more varied and diverse than what they had before the war.

What are some common ways to serve picadillo?

You can eat this delicious stew right out of the pot if you don’t have any leftovers.

It’s usually served over white rice, but you could also spoon it onto tortillas or bread rolls. It’s also great when topped with sour cream and avocado for an authentic Mexican-style meal.

If you like to cook, you can make a batch of picadillo and freeze it in individual servings so that you have something quick to reheat later.

That way you won’t have to spend too much time in the kitchen preparing dinner each night.

Here are some more ideas for serving picadillo:

Make a salad by adding diced cucumber, tomato, onion, red bell pepper, jalapeno, and lime juice to the cooked stew.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve it over rice, mashed potatoes, or even cornbread.

Top it with salsa verde (green sauce).

Use it as a filling for tacos.

What are some variations of the picadillo recipe?

Puerto Ricans often use picadillo as an ingredient for other dishes such as empanadas or enchiladas.

Some chefs like to add pineapple, mango, or papaya to their versions of picadillo.

However, there’s no rule that says you have to add anything else to it.

If you’re looking for something different than traditional picadillo recipes, here are some ideas.

Add cheese to the mix.

Use sharp cheddar or mozzarella instead of the milder Monterey Jack.

Serve the picadillo over rice.

Use fresh or frozen corn kernels instead of canned.

They won’t take away from the flavor but they will thicken up the stew.

Make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of water.

For a unique twist, prepare the picadillo in a slow cooker.

It takes longer to cook this way, so plan accordingly.

Puerto Rican Picadillo 1

FAQs about Picadillo

If I don’t have access to fresh cilantro, how can I make this dish?

You can substitute 1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes for each cup of fresh cilantro.

Just make sure to measure out the amount of parsley flakes correctly so they won’t overpower the dish.

Can I make this using canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones?

Yes, you can use canned diced tomatoes in place of fresh ones.

Just drain off the liquid before adding them to the skillet.

How long should I cook this dish for?

It depends on the size of your pot.

For small pots (8-inch), cook over medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour.

Larger pots (9-inch) will take longer because the filling gets thicker and requires more cooking time.

Is there anything else I need to know about preparing this recipe?

Don’t add too many pepper flakes to the mix or the dish may become too spicy for your taste buds.

And make sure to keep a close eye on the stew while it cooks – if you see any signs of burning, remove the lid immediately and decrease the heat to low.

Puerto Rican Picadillo

Puerto Rican Picadillo

This recipe is perfect for any time of year since it can be prepared on the stovetop or baked in the oven.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 2
Calories 782 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 bowl
  • 1 stockpot
  • 1 Pan

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion chopped
  • 1/3 cup Sofrito
  • 1/3 cup green bell pepper seeded & chopped
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper seeded & chopped
  • 1 8 oz. tomato sauce goya brand
  • 1/4 cup olives with pimento sliced
  • cilantro for garnish
  • salt for taste

Instructions
 

  • To begin preparing the Puerto Rican picadillo, first wash the green bell pepper, red onion, garlic clove, jalapeño pepper, and tomato.
  • Then cut them into small pieces and place them in a bowl.
  • Next, add the ground pork, salt, black pepper, oregano, cumin, thyme, and bay leaf.
  • Mix well and set aside.
  • Next, peel and chop the potatoes and place them in another bowl.
  • Once they have been peeled, slice the potatoes into cubes.
  • Add them to the bowl with the pork mixture and mix well.
  • Lastly, add the diced tomatoes, cilantro, parsley, and lime juice.
  • Mix everything together thoroughly and let the mixture marinate overnight before cooking.
  • The next day, heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
  • When the pot is hot enough, add the olive oil, followed by the pork mixture.
  • Stir the pork mixture so that the flavors combine evenly.
  • Then turn down the heat to medium low and let the pork mixture simmer until it thickens up and no longer looks wet.
  • This could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on how juicy your pork is.
  • If the pork starts to stick to the pan, you may need to add some water to loosen it up.
  • Once the pork mixture is done, remove the bay leaves and discard them.
  • Then pour the pork mixture into a baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
  • Place the dish in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  • After two hours, preheat the broiler.
  • Remove the dish from the fridge and place it under the broiler for 5 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
  • When the pork mixture is heated through, remove it from the oven and put it back in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  • While the pork mixture is cooling, prepare the green bell pepper and red onion by cutting them into thin strips.
  • Then place them in a bowl and toss them with the olive oil and salt.
  • Spread out the vegetables on a cookie sheet and bake them for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) until they soften slightly.
  • Remove the vegetables from the oven and set them aside to cool.
  • While the vegetables are cooling, dice the jalapeño pepper and red onion.
  • Toss the diced peppers and onions with the chopped tomatoes and stir them together.
  • Then toss the peppers and onions with the remaining ingredients except for the cheese.
  • Put the picadillo in the baking dish and top with the shredded mozzarella.

Nutrition

Calories: 782kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 42gFat: 62gSaturated Fat: 20gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 32gTrans Fat: 3gCholesterol: 161mgSodium: 1024mgPotassium: 1153mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 1489IUVitamin C: 64mgCalcium: 81mgIron: 6mg
Keyword Puerto Rican Picadillo
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