Picadillo de Pátzcuaro a la Criztina


Use this master recipe—making changes as needed for the other recipes listed in the story. When serving, offer additional condiments mentioned. 


Picadillo de Pátzcuaro a la Criztina


For 1 Batch(es)


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 4 ounces uncooked spicy sausage, crumbled or dry sausage, chopped
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons whole comino seeds
  • 1 teaspoons whole allspice berries
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 14 1/2 ounces high-quality chopped tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons crushed chile powder (I use crushed New Mexico red chiles)
  • 2 teaspoons high-quality cinnamon powder
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoons grated Mexican dark chocolate, optional (I use Taza stone=ground guajillo chili dark chocolate Mexicano)
  • 2/3 cups raisins
  • 2/3 cups Spanish olives (pimento-stuffed green olives), sliced
  • 2/3 cL slivered almonds, toasted

Picadillo de Pátzcuaro a la Criztina Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion, sausage and bay leaves and cook about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook about 3 more minutes, until the onion is soft.
  4. Add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper—crumbling the meat with a fork until evenly browned (about 7 minutes).
  5. Grind the whole spices in a spice grinder and add along with the tomatoes, dried herbs, crushed chile powder and cinnamon.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat.
  7. Add the tomato paste, red wine vinegar and chocolate, if using.
  8. Simmer, partially covered, about 15 minutes.
  9. Adjust flavors to taste, then add the raisins and olives and cook, uncovered, another 5 minutes or so (it should be thick but not soupy).
  10. Remove the bay leaves and sprinkle with nuts before serving.
  11. The picadillo will thicken (and get more flavorful!) if rested overnight.
  12. Thin with red wine, broth or water the next day, and adjust flavors to taste.
  13. In fact, this is the perfect dish to adjust to your own tastes! Consider adding olive brine for salt and more red wine vinegar or brown sugar. Try various kinds of dried red chiles, or add chopped jalapeños or serranos when cooking the onions. And consider soaking the dried fruits in 3 tablespoons of mezcal or tequila for 15 minutes before adding.
  14. For the meat, ground chuck or sirloin works well, or consider lean ground meats such as bison, venison, lamb or turkey (though they may require more oil or the addition of ground sausage or chorizo for more fat). Fried bacon is a good option—crumble and reserve bits for garnish, and use the fat for frying leaner meats. Or simply add diced bacon while browning the meat. Shredded meat, such as pork, beef or venison that’s been roasted, grilled or boiled, is also a good option.

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