How To Make My Mom’s Picadillo, the Most Comforting One-Skillet Dinner I Know

updated Feb 19, 2021
Picadillo

This humble dish of ground beef and vegetables — also called giniling or menudo in the Philippines — comes together in a single skillet and is endlessly customizable.

Serves4

Prep5 minutes to 10 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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picadillo sits in a bowl over rice next to a glass and a fork
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

My mom’s picadillo reminds me of my childhood in the Philippines. When I was 5 years old, my mother and I moved to Southern California from the Philippines. She was a young immigrant single mother raising a child on her own. In our new American life, most of our meals came from boxes or cans — but there was one home-cooked meal she made that brought me comfort and reminded me of the country we just left. My mother called it menudo.

Although menudo is often associated with the tripe-laden soup served at Mexican restaurants on Sundays, Filipino menudo is something entirely different: stew meat, carrots, potatoes, peas, and raisins simmered in a tomato base and served with white rice. But because my mom used ground beef instead of stew meat, she was actually serving me a dish called giniling (“ground meat” in tagalog), or what is commonly known in countries colonized by the Spanish as picadillo.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

Picadillo comes from the Spanish word picar, which translates to “mince,” referring to the chopped meat. The dish took on many forms as it made its way across the Spanish colonies — depending on the area, it could be made with ground beef, pork, or even seafood. Across Latin America, you’ll find varieties that have cumin, olives, or hard-boiled eggs, and in some countries, picadillo is stuffed into empanadas. Some recipes include annatto for added color, but my mom uses paprika, so that’s what I call for here.

In the Philippines, like many dishes, this dish varies from family to family. I’m sharing the recipe my mom taught me, but it’s such a simple and humble dish that you can riff on the recipe in many ways. In this version, I brown the meat, then add chopped onion and garlic. Next, I add tomatoes, potatoes, and seasonings, then simmer until the potatoes are tender. I then add frozen peas and carrots and finish it off with some raisins, but you can also try it with olives. Experiment with different seasonings and customize based on your palate and your pantry — sometimes I add cumin, or if I’m feeling like I want extra tomato flavors, I’ll increase the tomato paste or sauce. I especially love stuffing them in pastry like they do in Latin America.

After making this dish so many times for my own family, I understand why my mom used to make it for me. It’s fast and simple, cooks in one skillet, and is very comforting and satisfying. On top of all that, it uses pantry staples, making it a low-cost dinner option.

Does your family eat picadillo? Tell us your family’s recipe in the comments.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell
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Here's how to make my mom's picadillo.

Picadillo

This humble dish of ground beef and vegetables — also called giniling or menudo in the Philippines — comes together in a single skillet and is endlessly customizable.

Prep time 5 minutes to 10 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 4 cloves

    garlic

  • 8 ounces

    russet or Yukon gold potatoes (1 to 2)

  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable oil

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef, ground pork, or a combination

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1 tablespoon

    tomato paste

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup

    water

  • 1 teaspoon

    paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • Soy sauce or coconut aminos (optional)

  • 1 cup

    frozen peas and carrots

  • 2/3 cup

    raisins

  • Cooked white rice, for serving

Equipment

  • Chef's knife and cutting board

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Vegetable peeler

  • Large skillet

  • Spatula

Instructions

  1. Prep the vegetables. Finely chop 1 medium yellow onion. Mince 4 garlic cloves. Peel and dice 8 ounces russet or Yukon Gold potatoes.

  2. Brown the meat. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 1 pound lean ground beef or ground pork and 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cook, breaking it up with a spatula into small pieces, until just browned all over, about 4 minutes.

  3. Add the aromatics. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  4. Add the tomato and potatoes. Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste and stir until it coats the meat mixture, about 1 minute. Add the potato, 1 can diced tomatoes and their juices, 1/2 cup water, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil.

  5. Simmer and season. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes. Taste and season with more black pepper, kosher salt, soy sauce, or coconut aminos as needed.

  6. Add the peas, carrots, and raisins. Add 1 cup frozen peas and carrots and 2/3 cup raisins. Cook uncovered until the peas and carrots are cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes. Serve with cooked white rice.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Credit: Kitchn