Potato Picadillo-Costa Rica

Picadillo is a traditional dish in many Latin American countries as well as the Philippines, however, versions of it vary from country to country. It’s similar to hash and its staple ingredients are ground beef and and tomatoes; other ingredients depend on the region.

Picadillo is a dish I often had when studying in Costa Rica. In the land of pura vida, versions always include the name of the vegetable which represents the main ingredient to the dish-potato picadillo, ayote picadillo and which is chopped and cooked with bell peppers, onions, stock, herbs and spices. Costa Rican cuisine is not world renowned like Mexican is-it’s simple and hearty fare comprised of dishes that Ticos (a nickname for Costa Ricans) have been eating for centuries. Picadillo is no exception.

A quick note about one of the ingredients, bijol. Also known as achiote or annotto powder, it’s used for coloring rice and is a less expensive alternative to saffron. It’s described as having a unique flavor so if you live near a Latin grocery store I recommend trying to get some.

I found a couple of recipes for picadillo but the one I include the recipe for below was the simplest and this was a definite plus. Although I normally don’t prefer microwave “cooking,” once in a while it’s nice especially since the only time I had to use the stove top was to brown the meat and vegetables. It turned out really good-so definitely give Costa Rican cuisine a whirl!

And lest anyone think that a Mexican tortilla is odd to serve with a Costa Rican dish, tortillas are actually quite common in Costa Rica dining. One of my favorite things to eat in Costa Rica was a casado-a dish comprised of a meat entree, rice, beans, platanos, and tortillas.  You can serve picadillo with either tortillas or rice.

Potato Picadillo

1/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons steak sauce

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Pinch of ground cumin


1/4 teaspoon bijol (the generic name of this is achiote)

Chicken bouillon powder

8 boiling potatoes


-Place oil, steak sauce, oregano, basil, garlic powder, cumin and pepper to taste, bijol and bouillon powder (for saltiness) in a large, microwave-safe bowl. 


-Peel potatoes and cut into small chunks. Add to bowl and mix well with oil mixture. Cover and microwave for 10 minutes. Remove bowl and stir, then microwave again 5 minutes. Remove from microwave and set aside. 




1/2 white onion, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1/4 bunch cilantro

1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder

1 1/2 pounds ground beef


-Combine onion, bell pepper, celery, cilantro and bouillon powder. 


-In a dry skillet over low heat, fry beef 2-3 minutes. Add onion mixture and stir until well blended. Cook until meat is browned, 6-8 minutes. Add meat mixture to potato picadillo and mix well. Cover and microwave 5 minutes.

You Might Also Like

No Comments

    Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.