What Is Cuban Picadillo con Papas?
Cuban picadillo (pronounced “peekah-dee-ohz”) means minced meat or ground beef. Picadillo is a very popular Latin dish that is unique to each region that it comes from. Cuban picadillo con papas is ground beef with potatoes. Picadillo starts with a base of sofrito, tomatoes or tomato sauce and spices. If you are unfamiliar with sofrito, sofrito is a base of aromatics that consists of bell peppers, onions and garlic.
A sofrito is the Spanish version of a mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah). A mirepoix is the French base of aromatics consisting of onions, celery and carrots.
Getting back to picadillo, I have always said learning to make picadillo is like a stepping stone to Cuban cuisine. Once you master a good picadillo that picadillo can be used to make empanadas, pastelitos de carne, papa rellena, ajies rellenos (stuffed peppers), tostones rellenos and canoas con picadillo.
Like I said before, picadillo comes from many different Latin countries such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and even the Philippines. Each country has their own version with some kind of ground protein as the main ingredient. My only experience is with Cuban picadillo and I can tell you that even each family has their own version. Each family is also going to tell you that their’s is the MOST authentic too…..LOL
That is one of the things that I love about cooking compared to baking. When cooking, the ingredients and the amount of ingredients can be changed to your liking. When baking the ingredients and amounts pretty much have to be exactly as a recipe calls for or it won’t bake properly.
So here is our family’s version of picadillo con papas!
Ground Beef – Ground beef is “traditional” but you can use ground turkey, ground chicken or even plant based for a vegetarian version.
Papas (potatoes) – The potatoes can be roasted/baked in the oven like I did or they can be pan fried as well. For a one pot meal the potatoes can be added with the tomato sauce and water. Adjust the cooking time to 20-30 minutes until they are fork tender. I used to do it like this until I discovered I like a little crunch on the potatoes.
Raisins – If you have a savory-sweet palate then add some raisins to your picadillo.
Capers – If you like a little extra saltiness to your picadillo add capers.
Sharing is fun…..below is a Pinterest friendly photo!
Cuban Picadillo con Papas
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash the potatoes to remove any dirt and debris. Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces. Drizzle olive oil onto the potatoes. Sprinkle Sazon packet over potatoes and mix well so they are evenly coated. Season with black pepper to your liking.
Arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook potatoes in the oven for about 30 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking let's start making the picadillo. Turn potatoes after 15 minutes to brown all sides. When the potatoes are done remove them from the oven and reserve for the picadillo.
Wash the ground beef in a colander using cold water. I do this for two reasons. When the ground beef cooks it cooks really fine so there are no big chunks and second it removes excess fat. Make sure to clean up sink area after washing to avoid creating any bacteria.
Heat a sauté pan on medium high heat. When hot add ground beef and cook about 10 to 15 minutes. When all the ground beef is cooked through and is no longer pink drain in a clean colander. Heat sauté pan again with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat and return ground beef to pan. Season beef with salt, garlic powder and black pepper.
Next, add diced onions and bell peppers and cook with the ground beef until tender about 4-5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes. Just to clarify I measure the 1/3 cup garlic cloves before smashing. Deglaze the pan with the vino seco.
Stir in tomato sauce, water, salt, garlic powder, cumin and olives with some of the juice. If you decide to add raisins and or capers add them now. Next, add the cilantro and let simmer for another 5 - 10 minutes so all of the flavors incorporate with each other.
Last, stir in the crispy, cooked potatoes to the picadillo and serve over a bed of rice.