Monday, January 16, 2017

79. Lamb Picadillo Tacos

Lamb Picadillo Tacos

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I have a confession to make.  I came up with this taco recipe over the summer, right around the time my taco project temporarily crashed and burned!  We had a family get-together, and I figured I'd knock off three taco recipes in one day.  Well . . . I did.  I just didn't do a great job at documenting them.  Then I took a few months off of blogging.  By the time I got back to it, I didn't feel right posting the recipes I had made that day because it had been so long since I had made them that I wasn't sure I could adequately write about the experience!

I remembered that the lamb picadillo tacos were awesome, though!  I knew I needed a do-over.  I bought the ingredients for my months-old recipe, made it again, and decided to get a blog post up right away (as I usually do) while both the recipe and the cooking experience were still fresh in my mind.  I'm confident that what you're reading is an accurate representation of my original recipe!  I usually don't get to try them twice before posting (because this project is CRAZY), so it was kind of a bonus for me this time!

I got the inspiration for these tacos from a picadillo mollete recipe that I found in one of my many cookbooks: 

It was basically a sandwich - a picadillo filling stuffed in a roll and lightly fried. 

Picadillo is a kind of hash that can be found in many Latin cuisines - Mexican, Spanish, Cuban, etc.  It usually involves ground meat and potatoes, but can also include olives, raisins, and many other ingredients. 

Interestingly, the term "mollete" can also refer to different things, depending on the cuisine.  It can be a flatbread or a type of sandwich. 

So . . . what goes in a sandwich?  Cheese!  Pickles!  Lettuce! 

You can see how this happened.  I had an idea and took it down some crazy road that has quite possibly never been traveled before.  Ha ha.  This is probably the most unauthentic incarnation of picadillo that has ever been made, but it was pretty delicious.  If you're not a fan of lamb, it would work equally well with ground beef or ground turkey. 

So . . . here's what I did:

Lamb Picadillo Tacos 

Serves 4 (about 12 tacos)


For the lamb filling:

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1 lb. ground lamb
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup peeled and diced russet potato (about 1/4 inch dice)
1/2 small plum tomato, diced (also 1/4 inch)
2 tbsp. dried currants (or raisins)
1/4 cup pimiento stuffed green olives, chopped
2 tbsp. dry sherry
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. white wine
1 and 1/2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Filling Ingredients for Lamb Picadillo Tacos
I know - it's got a lot of ingredients.  However, you might have most of these in your pantry already!

12 high-quality crunchy taco shells (freshly made, if you can get them)

Taco Shells for Lamb Picadillo Tacos

Garnish as desired with:

Shredded iceberg lettuce

Kosher dill sandwich slices, sliced in half lengthwise

Pickle Slices for Lamb Picadillo Tacos

Finely shredded provolone cheese

Provolone Cheese for Lamb Picadillo Tacos

Cholula (or another hot sauce of your choice)


1.  Make the lamb filling:  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and red pepper, lower the heat a bit, and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, and cook for an additional minute, or until fragrant.  Add the cumin, oregano, lamb and salt and raise the heat back to medium.  Cook and stir, breaking up the lamb into small pieces, for about 10 minutes or until the lamb is fully cooked.

Browned Lamb for Lamb Picadillo Tacos

Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer.  Lower the heat and gently simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potato is tender and most of the excess liquid has evaporated.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Keep warm.

Lamb Filling for Lamb Picadillo Tacos

2.  Heat the shells:  Toast briefly (a minute or two) in a 350 degree oven until hot and fragrant.  Watch them - they can go from toasty to burned pretty quickly!

3.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a taco shell on a plate.  (If you have nifty little taco holders like the ones below, use them!  They make things easier!)  :)

Place one of the pickle slices inside.  Fill with some of the lamb mixture.  Top with lettuce, cheese, and Cholula.  Enjoy! 

Lamb Picadillo Tacos

There you have it.  Lamb picadillo tacos!  We both loved them, though we had different opinions about some of the ingredients.

I love pickles, olives, vinegar, and all things sour and briny.  I thought the olives in the filling, the vinegar in the Cholula, and the slice of pickle in the shell really went well together.  Steve thought the pickle was overkill.  He preferred just the meat, cheese, lettuce, and hot sauce.

If you're like me and you love pickles, I would recommend including the pickle slices.  If you would rather not, you'll still have some delicious tacos!

Three tacos seemed to be a good serving size for this recipe.  We got one dinner and one lunch out of this recipe, and we enjoyed it just as much the second time! 

If you've followed my recipes, you probably know that I don't worry too much about a little extra fat.  That being said, it is true that ground lamb can contain a little bit more fat than some people prefer.  If you wanted to brown the lamb separately, drain it, and then add it to the pepper and onion mixture, I'm sure that would work!  As for me, I didn't stress about it!  :)

This was a good one!  I will definitely make these again.  I can even see myself using the picadillo filling for other purposes.  It's so flavorful and delicious! 

If you'd like to follow along as I finish my taco project (and I will finish), please consider subscribing to my blog by clicking the link below:

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Please comment:  What do you think of this idea?  Did you make the tacos?  How did they turn out?  Until next time . . . Thanks for reading!

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