Puerto Rican Picadillo is a delicious recipe that is not only easy to make but also super versatile. Made with the unique flavors of the Caribbean.
What is a Puerto Rican Picadillo?
Puerto Rican Picadillo is cooked ground beef made with Puerto Rican seasonings like sazón and adobo. In English, picadillo is called minced meat. Picadillo comes from the Spanish word picar which means to cut. This is a dish that is very popular in all Latin American countries because of how inexpensive it is to make. With each one having its own version. It is funny to know that all my life I have known this recipe simply as carne molida (ground beef) and not as picadillo.
Puerto Rican Picadillo a Versatile Recipe
This is one of the Latino or puerto rican recipes I feel like everyone should learn how to make. This Puerto Rican picadillo can be made to eat over rice but to tell you the truth I hardly ever had it this way. I like to make my picadillo as stuffing for plantain cups, lasagña, puerto rican empanadas, tacos, burritos, and even for my chopped cheese sandwich. Try it on bread, over pasta, vegetables, and even with chips or crackers.
What is the picadillo sauce made of?
That delicious sauce you find in any picadillo recipe is a mix of all the juices from the ingredients. First, you add water which is then mixed with the fat and juices of the ground beef to give the sauce that broth flavor. Then you add tomato sauce that gives the sauce a nice color and flavor. Finally, you add the all mighty sofrito which not only has a lot of flavors but is also high in water content. And this is the perfect mix to get that delicious sauce in a picadillo recipe.
Is carne picada the same as picadillo?
Carne picada and picadillo are not the same thing but they can be. Let me explain, depending on who you are asking they can refer to minced ground beef as picadillo and also as carne picada but usually not. Carne picada is a Mexican recipe made with chuck roast and is truly delicious.
Is the Cuban, Mexican, or Filipino picadillo the same as the Puerto Rican one?
All these recipes are different in the way they are seasoned and the vegetables that they have. They are similar in that they are all easy and are made with ground beef. The Cuban picadillo is different because it has red wine or white wine. The Mexican picadillo had different chiles and different seasonings like cumin and thyme. The Filipino recipe has fish sauce and sometimes also soy sauce. The Puerto Rican one has sofrito, sazón and adobo.
Ground beef- For this recipe, I used ground beef but you can use ground chicken or turkey.
Sofrito- I used 2 tablespoons of sofrito because this is the base for the flavor in this recipe.
Tomato sauce- I used tomato sauce but you can use tomato paste if you prefer. You just use half of what the recipe calls for the tomato sauce.
Manzanilla olives- The olives I suggest you add them even if you don’t like eating them because of the flavor they give the dish. Just cook the dish and take it out if you like.
Water- In this recipe I use water to make the sauce in this recipe. There’s no need to use any type of broth because all the ingredients will release liquid that will combine for the perfect sauce.
Seasonings- In this recipe, we use only sazón and adobo. You can substitute the adobo with salt.
How to make Picadillo
1. First, you want to start by cooking the sofrito and tomato sauce together in a pan over high heat for 2 minutes. We cook these first because the sofrito is raw vegetables that we need to cook alone first for better flavor.
2. Then add the ground meat, seasonings, olives, and water. Slowly mix all the ingredients together.
3. You now need to break up the meat into smaller chunks. Do this until there are no more big lumps visible. How big or small the lumps of meat are is more of a preference but I always like the meat to be completely separated into very small pieces of meat.
4. In the last step all you do is cook the meat for 10 minutes and mix it a couple of times.
If you want your picadillo to have a lot of sauce, the best way to do this is to cook it with a lid on. What this will do is avoid evaporating most of liquid while cooking.
Vegetables– some people like to add garlic, onions, green bell peppers, or red bell peppers. I don’t add any of this because the sofrito has all 3 ingredients. But if you want to add those go ahead. You can add other veggies such as carrots or peas.
Raisins– I have seen so many recipes that add raisins but an authentic puerto rican picadillo does not include any. I have never seen ground beef in Puerto Rico made with raisins.
What to serve Puerto Rican Picadillo with?
You can serve this picadillo recipe with white rice. The best thing is that both recipes are very fast to make and will be done almost at the same time. It can be served over spaghetti or vegetables. It will also be the perfect match for a creamy mashed potato. You can also make traditional puerto rican recipes that are made with ground beef like rellenos de papa (stuffed potato balls), alcapurrias, canoas (sweet plantain boats), and coditos con carne (macaroni and ground beef).
How to Store and Reheat?
To store your picadillo you’ll want to use an airtight container. You can safely store it in your fridge for no more than 5 days and 3 months in the freezer. If you have a lot of meat left it is best to store it in freezer bags in small portions so you don’t risk not using all of it and having to toss the rest.
You can reheat it in the microwave. Just give it about 20 seconds at a time then stir it and heat it again until it is to your liking. You can also reheat it on the stovetop. Just use a pan over medium heat and add about ¼ cup of water so the meat won’t dry up while reheating.
Puerto Rican Picadillo Recipe
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tablespoons sofrito
- 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sazón
- 1 teaspoon adobo
- 1/4 cup manzanilla olives
- 1/2 cup water
- In a large pan over high heat, add sofrito and tomato sauce. Cook for about 2 minutes. Make sure to mix this a couple of times to make sure the sofrito doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add your meat, sazón, adobo, olives, and water. Break up the meat while it cooks. This is to avoid having lumps of beef. Cook for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.
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