A real Mexican heaven in Ireland

Chilli con carne? – Maybe Picadillo! April 19, 2012

Filed under: Main Course — Wendy Tapia @ 11:33 am
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One of the most popular Mexican dishes I’ve come across while living abroad, has been (to my honest surprise) “Chilli con Carne” this dish seems to be so popular and widely recognized as a Mexican dish but I must confess that my first impression was: what is “Chilli con Carne”? And it was surprising to find out that Chilli con Carne is very similar to what we call in Mexico City: Picadillo.

Picadillo is one of the most common dishes served in Mexican homes, it requires very little preparation and is full of flavour. Unsure of the origin of the name, picadillo could come from the verb “picar” which means “chopping” and picadillo is a diminutive form of the word “picar”, meaning something like “finely chopped” or “chopped in tiny bits” this explanation makes sense considering that the main ingredient is minced beef. Based on the assumption that Chilli con Carne is so similar to Picadillo, Let’s make picadillo!

The great news is that you will easily find all ingredients in Dublin, (and all Ireland) no need to do any food hunting this time. The ingredients for this recipe are:

– 100 grs of bacon chopped in small dices

– 1 tea spoon of vegetable oil

– 1/4 of onion finely chopped

– 3 mashed garlics

– 1 Large carrot chopped in small dices

– 1 Large potato chopped in small dices

– Chipotle chilli (optional, depending on the level of spiciness you like you can add or simply opt out – You can find it in the Epicurean the food court in City Centre)

– Corn

– Handful of Green beans (Note: Picadillo, in comparison with Chilli con Carne does not contain red kidney beans)

– 1/2 Kg. of minced beef

– Salt, garlic salt, chicken stock and rosemary.

– 1 Can of tomato puree or tomato sauce

Once that our ingredients are at hand, place a pan to medium heat. Add the oil and let it heat up. Once that the oil is ready, add the bacon and as soon as the bacon looks half cooked, add the garlic and onions. Stir to prevent the bacon from burning, until it is golden brown and slightly crispy.

Add bacon, onions and garlic

Now, while the bacon gets golden brown, season the minced beef with salt, garlic salt, a little bit of chicken stock, and rosemary. Mix the spices with the meat very well and then add to the pan where the bacon is already golden brown.


Season the meat and place in the pan

Let the meat cook on that side without mixing until the bottom starts getting golden brown, then turn around the meat and start breaking the minced beef in smaller bits, once that the meat is close to be fully cooked, add all the vegetables and stir.


Add the potato and carrot

At this point the meat should look juicy, so it is now time to add the tomato sauce and stir again. If you like spicy food add 2 – 3 tea spoons of the chipotle chilli to the tomato sauce (Note: use only the juice in the chipotle chilli can, do not use the actual chillies, unless you like very spicy food)


Add the tomate sauce and reduce the heat

Finally, add the tender vegetables: corn and green beans and proceed to lower the heat then cover with a lid.


Add tender vegetables, reduce heat and cover with a lid

Leave it there for about 15 mins or until all the vegetables are tender. If for any reason your sauce starts reducing too much, simply add a bit of chicken stock and water.

Listo! picadillo is ready to be served. In Mexico, as the majority of the dishes, picadillo is served with corn tortillas, so you can use flour tortillas or simply get a fresh baguette and Buen Provecho!


Picadillo ready!


Ahuacamolli – Guacamole July 24, 2011

In the ancient Mexican language, N├íhuatl, Ahuacamolli means ‘avocado salsa’ [‘ahuaca’ – avocado / ‘molli’ – salsa/sauce] Until today this recipe is a classic as it adds a lot to a taco, salad or any other dish this is why I wanted this recipe to be the very first one in this blog because you will be able to prepare and eat it in only a few minutes and hopefully remember it for years.

The history of guacamole comes from hundreds of years of tradition and some popular Mexican stories tell that avocados were only to be hand picked by men, women were not allowed to do so. Nowadays, the challenge for those living in Ireland is to actually find suitable avocados, so I have done a bit of research around and selected a number of shops where you will easily find them:

Tesco Dundrum

Fallon & Byrne (Actually this is a nice shop where you will be able to find a few magic ingredients)

Superquinn Ballinteer

I have listed them in order of preference, Tesco seems to have avocados that are suitable for guacamole more often than other places. My definition of ‘suitable’ in this case is that the avocado is black or purplish; your finger should sink nicely in it, not too soft, not too hard and in terms of taste, the closest taste to Mexican Hass avocado are the ones that come from Peru.

Now, let’s get hands on deck – Once you have bought your nice avocados, ensure that they are dark and soft enough to mash them, simply get the following:

– 1/2 small onion

– 1 small tomato

– 1/2 lime

– 1 pinch or 2 of salt, or 1 salt/1 chicken stock powder

Suitable avocado, onion, tomato, and lime.

So the recipe goes like this – Get a bowl and mix in this order: chopped onion, then mash the avocado, add salt (and chicken stock, if you went for that option; this option is not suitable for vegetarians) and gently mix. After that, add the lime juice and the tomato and mix again.

This is how a nice avocado should look like.

Mashed avocado, onion and salt/chicken stock.

Adding tomato and lime.

Tada! guacamole sorted, now a few tips:

1. If you are not going to eat it immediately after preparing, simply make sure to add some lime juice on top to prevent that the guacamole turns dark.

2. Always keep the avocado seed and add it to your guacamole at the very end, this will add a nice touch and it is a belief in Mexico that the guacamole will be preserved green for longer as the seed is he heart of the avocado.

My suggestion? – Quesadillas with guacamole, make a great light supper.

Nice supper ready!

A healthier option for those on diets: guacamole on Ryvita bread. It is also great for parties, simply buy lightly salted tortilla chips (Marks & Spencer sells good ones) and leave the rest to your guests.

Buen Provecho!