The Day – Picadillo recipe

Those of us from southern climes have appreciated the increase in local Mexican restaurants over the past few years. All manner of continental Mexican, tropical, Caribbean and Spanish menus have popped up – but admittedly, for my wife Eileen and I, the closest experience of Tex-Mex food to our Texas upbringings is still found at Ortega in Groton.

Often in conversation with owners Pablo and Nina Ortega, we talk about the various dishes from the tex-mex archives, and Pablo, Ortega’s chef, will describe items not usually found on the traditional menu. tacos/burritos/enchiladas. Upon request, he shared a favorite dish from their home kitchen, one that sounds great and which we hope may soon find its way to at least Ortega’s specialty board. Anyway, I’m going to do it myself because it’s so easy that even I can’t mess it up. Behold: the age-old Mexican casserole called Picadillo. Pablo says that although there are many variations of this recipe, people tend to over-complicate it and try to be too clever. The base is the way to go.

Piccadillo by Pablo Ortega

Ingredients

3 pounds. Ground beef

2 potatoes cut into small pieces

1/2 white onion, sliced

1 large tomato, sliced

3 fresh garlic cloves, crushed

4-5 whole black peppercorns

1 clove, crushed

directions

Place ground beef in skillet and cook until not quite browned. Add vegetables and seasonings and cook until meat is browned and vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate with rice and beans. Makes 4-5 servings.

Michael M. Tomlin