Zacatecas Style Ground Beef Stew – Picadillo Zacatecano

As in my previous post, this is another weekday menu solution using ground meat, a brothy stew that may be served as a soup, yet comforting and hearty enough to be a meal.  Picadillo means “finely chopped”, a classic ground meat dish in Spanish and Latin American cuisines; very basic recipes from Spain call for minced meat, onions, garlic and paprika, sometimes with the addition of olives or dried fruit.  In Mexico, most recipes are tomato based, with regional variations; the ones in Northern states might have ancho chile, while the Southern regions might call for raisins or other fruits, and even nuts, such as almonds.  Around Mexico City, potatoes and zucchini are the staple, as I mentioned in one of my early posts.  The version in this post comes from the Mexican state of Zacatecas, also with potatoes and zucchini, along with carrots and two unique features: it is prepared to have a lot of broth, and the ground beef is not fried first, but added at the very end, so it retains a lot of its juices and tender texture.

Zacatecas Style Ground Beef Stew – Picadillo Zacatecano

Printable recipe:  Zacatecas Style Ground Beef Stew – Picadillo Zacatecano  


1 lb (454g) lean ground beef
2 carrots; washed, peeled, and cubed
3 medium potatoes; washed, peeled, and cubed
2 zucchini; washed, ends removed, and sliced
3 tomatoes; washed, stem spot removed, and quartered
½ white onion; peeled and cut into pieces
1 clove garlic; peeled
1 bunch cilantro; washed, and chopped
1 tsp ground all-spice
¼ tsp cumin
2 tbsp oil 
2-3 cups water, as needed
Salt and pepper, to taste

To serve: limes; washed and cut up into wedges; warm corn tortillas; pickled jalapeño peppers

Place tomatoes, onion and garlic in a blender jar (photo below, left); process until uniform (photo below, right):


In a large pot, warm up oil over medium heat; add carrots and sauté for a couple of minutes, then add potatoes (photo below, left).  Continue cooking for another five minutes, stirring occasionally; incorporate zucchini, then add all-spice and cumin (photo below, right): 

Cook for another two minutes, then add reserved tomato sauce (photo below, left); stir and cook for one minute, then add water, enough to cover the veggies (photo below, right):

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, and cover pot (photo below, left).  Cook for ten minutes, then uncover and add ground beef, breaking up into small bits with a spoon, then add half the cilantro (photo below, right):

Continue cooking for another ten minutes, until meat is no longer pink; season with salt and pepper to taste, and incorporate the rest of the cilantro:

Serve hot in soup bowls, with lime wedges, warm tortillas, and pickled jalapeños on the side:

Armed with delicious homemade options, such as this picadillo, savvy cooks do not need to malinger when meal time approaches, also avoiding sinfully unhealthy delivery food.  Preparation directions are easy to follow, with the addition of veggies in order of cooking times, and finishing with the meat and fresh cilantro aids to punctuate the freshness of the ingredients.

I am sharing my recipe at What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up #402 with Helen @ The Lazy Gastronome.

I am bringing my recipe to Full Plate Thursday #624 with Miz Helen @ Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #575, with Bev @ Eclectic Red BarnPam @ An Artful MomKatherine @ Katherine’s CornerAmber @ Follow the Yellow Brick HomeTheresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.

I am joining Fiesta Friday #468 with Angie @ Fiesta Friday, this week co-hosting with Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

9 thoughts on “Zacatecas Style Ground Beef Stew – Picadillo Zacatecano

  1. Hello, we make it the same way except my family has always added azafrán. Would you happen to have the nutritional facts for this?


    1. Hi Yanet! Yes, I know what you are referring to, it’s azafrán de bolita – “saffron pellets”, a spice that comes from the seeds of Ditaxis heterantha, used as a colouring agent and as a substitute for the flower stigmas of Crocus sativus, or “true” saffron. It is very hard to find, I would say even in some parts of Mexico, and I have never seen it here in Canada. If available, of course it would go great in this recipe. I have added a chart with approximate nutritional values, I hope it helps.


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