Picadillo Tacos . $6.02

Seriously, sometimes it seems there’s nothing more American than a taco! At least the versions with pressed shells and a packet – and truth be told, my kids inhaled those. But here’s a version that’s a little different based on the lovely Picadillo, a dish traditional to Spain and many Latin American countries and cultures.

Picadillo Tacos - shown here with home-made taco shells
Picadillo Tacos – shown here with home-made taco shells

Picadillo is a dish with many variations, so feel free to play with this recipe to suit your taste and your family’s. This recipe isn’t hot as written, but I often jazz it up a bit, especially as my family is pretty much (Oh, I hope so! Crosses fingers…) finally grown. I seem to remember more a couple of years when my son looked at every food with suspicion and I had to leave out the green olives or risk rebellion – a few dashes of the brine flew under his vegetable hating radar!

These Picadillo Tacos are shown with a hard shell, freshly made, a bit crunchy, a bit chewy, there really is nothing like it! If you’ve only had the boxed variety of a hard shell, one made at home with a corn tortilla will blow you away. Just a bit fussy, they are worth every single minute it takes to lovingly fry them. Best, of course, like anything fried, made at the last possible minute. Simple fried tostadas can be turned out very quickly if you’d rather shortcut, and these are wonderful in a simple soft tortilla, too. Directions are below for the hard shells as well as for a more authentic fried taco.

Believe me, any way you make these, this Picadillo will be a huge hit! And isn’t it fun to have options to play with your food? With tacos, nothing is set in stone: you get to choose your shells, customize your filling and best of all, add in all your favorite toppings! If I have one on hand, I often add a bit of jalapeno or some red chili flakes to the Picadillo, or use a ground Chipotle powder instead of chili powder. Our favorite salsa? The Pico de Gallo on my Chipotle Chicken Copycat recipe.

Picadillo Tacos
Picadillo Tacos

Picadillo Tacos

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 to 1 onion, minced
  • 2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 medium baking potato, peeled and finely diced or grated on the large holes of a box grater. Raw or a left over baked potato will work here
  • 1/2 large tomato or whole medium, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of chopped green olives
  • 1 cup water or stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt, may omit if using canned stock
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • Toppings of choice: lettuce, avocado, tomato, salsa, onion, cheese, etc.

Add ground beef to skillet, breaking it up as it cooks. As soon as a bit of the fat melts and coats the skillet, add the onions and continue to cook until the meat is cooked through and the onions softened. Drain the mixture, discarding fat.

Clear a bit of space in the center of the skillet and add garlic and spices and allow to toast until fragrant, stir together. Sprinkle in flour and toast, stirring for a minute or two, then add potato, tomato, olives and water or stock.

Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until mixture is thickened.

Hard Taco Shells:

Fill a small frying pan with oil to the depth of about 1/2 inch. Heat to about 350 degrees. Gently place tortilla in oil and using a spatula and tongs, immediately lift one side up and hold at an angle with the tongs while gently holding the side of the tortilla that is still in the oil down with the spatula.

Cook until the tortilla begins to crisp and lightly brown, 30 second to 1 minute. Carefully turn and repeat. Drain as much oil off as possible and move the shell to a paper bag. Best results are had if the shell is held in the “open” position to slightly cool before setting down.

Old-Fashioned Tacos:

One of my favorite ways (and probably the most authentic, although I seldom make these like this anymore due to diet requirements, like I should really be worrying when eating tacos, about a smidge more fat!) to make these is to soften the required number of tortillas for a moment in the hot oil until they are limp but not crisped.

When finished, raise the oil to 375 degrees. Fill a soft corn tortilla with a bit of the Picadillo mixture and holding with tongs, submerge the whole works into the oil until lightly browned and crispy, but still a bit pliable. You’ll want to be able to get them open for all the toppings. Drain well by tilting them over the oil!

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Read {Strategies Applied} for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.

Put Your own Spin on It:

Feel free to vary, add, omit any ingredients you wish.

Fast Food Option:

Taco Bell Tacos - 16 tacos will put you back $20.43!
Taco Bell Tacos – 16 tacos will put you back $20.43!

Kitchen & Cooking Hack:

Did you know a potato masher makes short work of breaking down hamburger? And that scoops help perfectly portion?

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4 thoughts on “Picadillo Tacos . $6.02”

    1. Thanks, Sarah! I always figure that people think they have to eat “cheap” stuff to save money, but I think we just have to learn to buy cheaply!

      And yes, they are a really nice change from regular old tacos, and only take a few more minutes.

    1. Thanks, these have long been a family favorite. As an American I sometimes shake my head at the various combinations of fried foods with cheese (including deep fried cheese) available, as well as the way we tend to eventually “bastardize” nearly every classic dish that enters our borders. Every now and then there is a culmination of those factors that is so perfect, it’s nearly sublime.

      I’d have to say the humble taco is one of those!

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