Turkey Picadillo Taco Filling

When I was growing up, most of the time when my mom cooked dinner, it was usually something that was traditional Mexican cuisine.  In fact, most of the memorable meals I ate growing up were Mexican in origin, and to this day, Mexican food (and its bastard cousin, Tex-Mex) is still my favorite thing to eat.

One of the things my mom always used to fix was this taco filling that was basically ground beef, diced potatoes and seasoning.  I didn’t know until about 3 years ago when I ate a picadillo taco from Fuel City (one of the best tacos EVER, Texas Monthly says so) that this was picadillo filling.  Picadillo is a type of hash, really, that has many variants depending on what part of Latin American you hail from.  Some picadillos have olives, pimientos, carrots, bell peppers or even cinnamon as ingredients.   The picadillo recipe I’ve developed is a healthier version of the one Mom used to make, since it uses ground turkey rather than ground beef, and it’s a bit spicier since I add a few spices to it that she did not.

The result?  A really tasty, easy dinner.

A dinner staple at our house, these tacos are easy to make and a healthy version of a traditional Mexican favorite.

I serve mine on whole wheat tortillas, with a bit of shredded cheese and a squeeze of lime juice.  Here’s how I did it.

You will need:

  • 1 pound ground turkey (use the 93/7 mixture; ground turkey breast is too dry for this)
  • 4 large red skin potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used medium heat ones since it was all I had; usually I use very hot ones)
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder (adds a nice smokiness)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • salt to taste

NOTE: Onions would be an excellent addition here, and I would add a half cup of diced onion if I could.

In a large skillet, brown the turkey with the garlic, stirring periodically to break it up.  Do not drain the meat.  There is not a lot of fat here anyway, and the resultant liquid will help flavor your potatoes.  Once the meat is done browning, add the potatoes and 2 cups of water, plus all the seasonings.  Stir the potatoes in with the meat until everything is thoroughly mixed.  Cover the skillet and let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes soften.  You can then adjust the salt levels to however you like.

Serve in warm tortillas with your favorite taco accompaniments.  These are especially good with a squeeze of lime and Monterrey jack cheese.  We ate ours with a leafy green salad, but usual sides for this dish are rice and beans.

This recipe made 6 medium-sized tacos, with leftovers to make 2 more medium-sized tacos.  If we had used smaller tortillas, this recipe could have easily made a dozen tacos.

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2 responses to “Turkey Picadillo Taco Filling

  1. I made this tonight and it was awesome. Lee is right; some onions would make this better. Unfortunately, she has family will die from eating onions; I have family that would rather die than eat onions. Very yummy and healthy.

    • Onions would make it even more awesome. Next time we make it, we’re thinking of adding some of my dad’s homemade salsa to it instead of the spices. Dad’s salsa is all the spice a batch of picadillo would need…it’s super spicy and delicious. If you want some, I can hook you up–just let me know.

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