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Costa Rican Picadillo de Papa Recipe

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Get ready for meat and potatoes the Costa Rican way! This potato and shredded beef picadillo is a Costa Rican culinary staple and a crowd favorite.

About This Costa Rican Picadillo de Papa Recipe

Costa Rica is well known for its picadillos, and with good reason! Traditionally made with diced vegetables, meat, and spices, picadillos are a beloved staple of Costa Rican cuisine.  Picadillo is usually served with with homemade corn tortillas or alongside a Costa Rican casado.

These tasty hashes are very versatile, and can involve whatever vegetables and meats that might be available at the time. One of the most popular picadillos is called picadillo de papa, or “potato picadillo” in English. 

In order to make this recipe, I decided to combine two old favorites: my earlier recipes for Costa Rican style boiled potatoes and shredded beef respectively. These two recipes are delicious on their own, but combined? A whole new world of flavor! 

This makes a huge batch of picadillo de papa, so you’ll have plenty of leftovers for dinners to come!

Picadillo de Papa Costa Rica Recipe

Ingredients: 

For the potatoes:

  • 1 pound white potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bullion (Maggi)
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion or yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and stems
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

For the meat:

  • 3 pounds flank steak
  • 1-2 TB salt (see notes)
  • 1-2 TB chicken bullion
  • 1 -2 TB soy sauce
  • 1/2 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, with stems, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Salsa Lizano
  • 6-8 cups water (see notes)

Instructions:

For the potatoes

Roughly chop the potatoes into evenly sized pieces. Place them in a medium saucepan or stockpot and cover with water. Stir in the Maggi seasoning. Bring everything to a boil and boil until potatoes are fork-tender.

While the potatoes are boiling, you can make your sofrito. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper, cilantro and garlic and cook on medium heat until the onion is translucent and the red pepper has softened significantly.

Once the potatoes have cooked, drain all of the water except about 1/2 cup.  Mash the potatoes with a fork or potato masher. You will roughly mash these potatoes- you want some small chunks of potato in there. This doesn’t really affect the flavor, but it’s the traditional texture of this recipe.

Add the potatoes to the sofrito and stir until evenly combined. You may need to add a bit more oil to the pan to keep the potatoes from sticking as you stir fry. Check for salt, and serve!

For the meat:

Place all the ingredients into the pressure cooker. (I use an electric pressure cooker like the Instant Pot).  Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. You can use the quick release or the natural release- I don’t think it matters but I usually just let the pressure release on its own unless I’m in a hurry.

Remove the meat from the pressure cooker and set aside to cool slightly.

Strain the beef broth through a fine-mesh strainer and place in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. I usually put the broth in Ball jars, or freeze it in plastic gallon bags for later. 

Shred the beef using two forks or your hands. True Costa Rican shredded beef is shredded very finely, so I use my hands for this.

To Make The Picadillo

Simply combine the potatoes and the meat into a skillet and heat thoroughly. The easiest way to make this recipe is to make the potatoes and meat ahead, and then just combine the two the day you want to serve the picadillo.

This recipe is almost always served on corn tortillas, and we like to make them ourselves for extra flavor. Here is my homemade corn tortilla recipe.

Related Recipes You’ll Love:

Substitutions

When you’re preparing your sofrito for the boiled potatoes, you can swap in butter or margarine for the oil. For seasoning the boiled potatoes, plain salt can be substituted for the Maggi chicken bullion cubes. 

Though flank steak is the best option when it comes to preparing Costa Rican style shredded beef, chuck, rump, and round roasts will also work in a pinch. 

Variations

Besides a pressure cooker, the shredded beef can be prepared using both a slow cooker and a crockpot instead. You can place all of your ingredients in either one and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 6-8 hours. Though slow cookers and crockpots might take a little longer, the end result will be just as tasty!

For the boiled potatoes, feel free to add chorizo, bell peppers, or chile dulce to fill out their flavor. 

The Mexican-style picadillo de papa is made with seasoned ground beef, and sometimes we do that in Costa Rica as well.

Serving Suggestions

Plate your picadillo de papa alongside some warm tortillas and top with a dollop of sour cream if desired. Costa Rican style white rice and gallo pinto make excellent side dishes for this recipe! This is often served as part of the afternoon coffee tradition, or at parties.

Of course, this is always served with Salsa Lizano!

FAQ

  1. What type of bullion should I use for the boiled potatoes? – I like the Maggi variety of boullion, but sometimes it can be hard to come by. Better than Boullion is a great alternative for seasoning your potatoes, as is plain table salt. 
  2. Where can I find Salsa Lizano to flavor the shredded beef? – Salsa Lizano is an exclusively Costa Rican condiment, so one of the best ways to get it is over Amazon. It can sometimes also be found at your local Walmart.
  3. Where are picadillos typically eaten? – In addition to being a specialty in Central America, picadillos can also be found in the Philippines. Every country has a different rendition of a picadillo, but the vegetable-meat-and-spice base remains about the same. 

Printable Recipe

Yield: 6 servings

Picadillo de Papa

Get ready for meat and potatoes the Costa Rican way! This potato and shredded beef hash is a Costa Rican culinary staple and a crowd favorite.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • Costa Rican Boiled Potato Recipe
  • Costa Rican Shredded Beef Recipe
  • 6 warm corn tortillas
  • Sour cream (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare boiled potatoes and shredded beef according to the recipes above and mix them together in a large bowl.
  2. Place 1/3 cup of your picadillo onto warm corn tortillas and serve with a dollop of sour cream on top. 

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 122Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 20mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 2gSugar: 0gProtein: 7g

Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

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About the Author

Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa! I fell in love with Latin America in my 20s, and I’m still head over heels! Here at Pura Vida Moms I celebrate what it means to be bicultural- Costa Rican recipes, bilingual parenting and family travel.

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Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa, and I’m on a mission to help the world fall in love with Costa Rica through food, travel and language. I’m a mom of two Latinas, bicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish), and 100% in love with celebrating parenthood in all its forms, (even the sucky parts). I’m so happy you found the site- WELCOME! Find out more about me here

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