Picadillo is a thing of our Latin American roots that we just can’t seem to shake off. ‘We’ here being the average expatriate from any Spanish-speaking country. Although the dish is originally a Spanish traditional one, like many other Spanish foods it soon became part of everyday Latin American cuisine. Ingredients vary, of course, by region and it’s often served with rice or used as a filling in dishes such as tacos, pastries, or croquettes. But in the end…the general take on it is this: the name derives from the Spanish word picar, which means ‘to mince’ or ‘to chop’…chopped everything it is!
Made primarily with ground beef & tomato sauce, it’s actually quite similar to hash, a French counterpart derived from the French verb hacher, or ‘to chop’. There are so many different varieties & so many local additions that have redefined the dish from country to country; like for instance, potato or ayote picadillo in Costa Rica, the Cuban version with olives, or hard-boiled egg for the Dominican Republic, and raisins in Puerto Rico. Mexicans uses picadillo in oh-so-many delicious recipes and I actually prepared an authentic Mexican picadillo once to stuff my chiles en nogada.
In Honduras, picadillo is often prepared in somewhat of a similar manner…with one ultimate secret delight: plantain. Our love for plantain goes without saying, it simply defines us as a culture. Whether it’s fried, boiled, or roasted, green or ripe, plantain will always hold its own special place in our Honduran hearts. Along with diced potatoes & carrots, this version of picadillo has the perfect balance of flavors that everyone will enjoy, which is why – to many of us – it’s known as comidita de pobre.
For the Picadillo
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 500g of ground beef
- 3 small potatoes, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 ripe plantain, diced
- 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of beef consommé
- 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
- 2 cups of water
Begin by dicing everything and setting aside. On a large deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions. Sauté until fragrant and add the garlic. Add the ground beef and cook until brown, mincing it well so as to reduce the clumps as much as possible. Let the beef brown for about 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes, carrots, and plantain, and mix until everything is evenly distributed. Add the spices and stir delicately, as so not to break the small pieces. Add the tomato sauce and coat the mixture evenly. Add the water and stir, reducing the heat to low. Let the vegetables cook until the water is evaporated, stirring ever so often. When all the water has evaporated, stir gently and check that the potatoes are done! Once the potatoes are done, you’re ready to serve! The picadillo can be served with a side of rice, or used to make empanadas or any other savory filled pastry!