Mom’s Picadillo Con Papa: Ground Beef with Potatoes

Picadillo con Papa, a traditional dish in many Latin American households, holds a special place in family recipe collections. This hearty and comforting meal features ground beef cooked with potatoes in a flavorful tomato-based sauce, seasoned with a blend of aromatic spices. Passed down through generations, this recipe evokes memories of home-cooked meals and gatherings around the dinner table. In this article, we’ll delve into the history of picadillo con papa, explore its key ingredients and cooking techniques, and provide step-by-step instructions to recreate this beloved dish in your own kitchen.

The History of Picadillo Con Papa:

Picadillo, which translates to “mince” or “hash” in Spanish, originated in Spain and was brought to Latin America during the colonial period. Over time, it has evolved into various regional variations, each with its own unique ingredients and flavors. In countries like Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, picadillo is a staple dish enjoyed in homes and restaurants alike. The addition of potatoes, known as “papa” in Spanish, adds heartiness and texture to the dish, making it a satisfying meal that’s perfect for sharing with family and friends.


  • 1 medium Russet potato or 2 white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 to 2 serrano chiles, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Pinch of salt and Mexican oregano


  1. Preheat 1/8 to 1/4 cup of olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the diced potatoes and cook until they are browned and crispy in spots. Covering the potatoes while they cook helps them cook faster from the inside. Transfer the potatoes to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, add the ground beef and cook over medium-high heat. Season the beef with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the beef is nicely browned.
  3. Add the minced garlic and diced onion to the skillet and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes until the onion is translucent.
  4. In a blender, combine the chopped tomatoes, serrano chiles, 1/4 cup water, a pinch of salt, and Mexican oregano. Blend until smooth.
  5. Pour the tomato mixture into the skillet with the beef. Let it come to a boil and taste for seasoning, adjusting salt if needed.
  6. Fold in the cooked potatoes and stir until well combined. Continue cooking at a low simmer until the sauce thickens and reduces, about 7-10 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and serve hot. Enjoy your delicious Mom’s Picadillo Con Papa!

Tips and Variations:

  1. Add Vegetables: Feel free to add extra vegetables like diced carrots, peas, or bell peppers to enhance the nutritional value and flavor of the dish.
  2. Adjust Heat: Control the spiciness by adjusting the amount of serrano chiles or by removing the seeds for a milder flavor.
  3. Extra Flavor: For extra depth of flavor, you can add a splash of Worcestershire sauce or a tablespoon of tomato paste to the picadillo.
  4. Toppings: Serve the picadillo con papa with toppings such as chopped cilantro, diced avocado, or a dollop of sour cream for added richness.
  5. Serve with Rice: This dish pairs perfectly with steamed white or brown rice, or you can enjoy it with warm tortillas for a comforting meal.

How to Store:

  • Allow the picadillo con papa to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • To reheat, simply warm it up in a skillet over medium heat or in the microwave until heated through.


Q: Can I use ground turkey instead of ground beef?
A: Yes, you can substitute ground turkey for ground beef if you prefer a leaner option. Just be mindful that turkey may have a slightly different flavor profile.

Q: Can I make this dish ahead of time?
A: Absolutely! You can prepare the picadillo con papa ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until ready to reheat and serve. It actually tastes even better the next day as the flavors have had time to meld together.

Q: Can I freeze leftovers?
A: Yes, you can freeze leftovers for longer storage. Transfer the cooled picadillo con papa to freezer-safe containers or resealable bags, removing as much air as possible. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Q: Is picadillo con papa gluten-free?
A: Yes, this recipe is naturally gluten-free as it does not contain any gluten-containing ingredients. However, always double-check ingredient labels, especially for seasonings and sauces, to ensure they are gluten-free if you have dietary restrictions.

In conclusion, Mom’s Picadillo Con Papa is a timeless recipe that celebrates the rich culinary heritage of Latin America. With its simple yet satisfying ingredients and comforting flavors, it’s no wonder that this dish has stood the test of time and continues to be a beloved family favorite. Whether you’re cooking for a crowd or enjoying a cozy meal at home, picadillo con papa is sure to delight your taste buds and warm your soul.

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