Friday, June 3, 2011

Beef picadillo enchiladas with ancho-chipotle gravy

A traditional food in many Latin American cuisines, picadillo is a wonderful comfort food. Its name derives from the Spanish picar which means "to mince" or "to chop." As suggested by its name, the main ingredient in picadillo is chopped meat, usually beef. Other spices and ingredients can vary from tomatoes and onions to olives or raisins or even honey.

For a recent dinner party, we spooned picadillo onto corn tortillas as enchilada filling. Combined with this slightly spicy gravy, it was absolutely delicious, intriguing without being too outré for a palate unused to Mexican food. The picadillo was also fabulous paired with rice and black beans. The mixture of sauced ground beef and starch reminded me of a Mexican shepherd's pie. Good, honest, happy food. (As you can see below, the dinner party was happily buzzing along. The enchiladas were well on their way to being demolished before I remembered to take a photo.)

Beef picadillo enchiladas with ancho-chipotle gravy
Gravy adapted from the Homesick Texan

2 lbs lean ground beef
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced
3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup beef broth

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and make sure it is well broken up. Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and cook until the onion becomes soft and somewhat translucent.

Add carrot, potatoes, tomatoes, oregano, chili powder, and beef broth to the skillet.

Stir well, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until the potato and carrot pieces are very tender, stirring occasionally. If the picadillo has too much liquid in
it, simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced.

For the gravy:
1 dried chipotle chile, seeds and stems removed
2 dried pasilla chiles, seeds and stems removed
2 dried ancho chiles, seeds and stems removed
1/4 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3 cups beef broth
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

In a dry skillet heated on high, toast the chiles on each side for about 10 seconds or just until they start to puff. Fill the skillet with enough water to cover chiles. Leave the heat on until water begins to boil. Turn off the heat, cover the skillet, and let the chiles soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Once hydrated, discard the soaking water and rinse the chiles. Place in a blender.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil on medium heat and sauté onions for a few minutes until they become tender. Add garlic and sauté for another minute until the onion becomes translucent. Remove onions and garlic from pan and add to blender. Add cumin, oregano, and the broth. Blend until smooth.

Keep saucepan on medium heat. Whisk flour into the oil remaining in the saucepan until well incorporated. Gradually whisk in the blended mixture and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and black pepper to taste and adjust other seasonings as needed. 

For enchiladas:
a dozen corn tortillas
shredded cheese (Monterrey Jack or blended Mexican cheese)

To make the enchiladas, preheat the oven to 350ºF and lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish. Wrap tortillas in a damp towel and microwave for about 60 seconds on high. Lay each tortilla on a plate and add about 2 tablespoons of picadillo. Roll the tortilla and place in baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour sauce over enchiladas and top with grated cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbling.


  1. Hmm this looks delicious, but i think it is not very easy to do it. Anyway i think i will give it a try so thanks a lot for sharing with us.

  2. It does look complicated, I know, but everything is very straightforward. Nothing tricky like making a soufflé. If it seems daunting, maybe just try the picadillo. Terrific with rice and beans. Thanks so much for stopping by!


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