Picadillo, a homely Mexican recipe


picadillo by Susana Villasuso @holasus

A few words about you and where did the quarantine find you?

Hi, I’m Susana Villasuso , a Chef and recipe developer from Mexico, and I write a blog about the food I cook for my family , Life Limon Y Sal, you can also find some of my work on instagram @Holasus.

I live outside of London with my little family in the heart of a small village in Surrey.

After hearing about the amount of cases in Italy, Spain and France we knew what was coming, but I must say it still felt pretty surreal once the lockdown came in, we went from a week before hearing from the prime minister that such measures were not necessary yet, to lockdown! our way of life changed drastically in the period of two weeks.

By that time, I was already in isolation with my family as I developed symptoms a week before and my husband too. I remember just thinking at the time we will be ok after we end with the 14 days isolation. My daughter will return to school and Bill, my husband, to work, I don’t know, like I said the whole situation felt pretty surreal still to the majority of people.

I don’t think anyone was really prepared for it when the prime minister appeared on the television asking everyone to stay at home and not to go out unless it was for food or to exercise once a day.

What was so upsetting to me at the time, was seeing supermarkets shelves emptied out and vulnerable people on the news unable to even get the essentials. I now understand that everybody was trying to protect their families, although I still believe that I wouldn’t feel happy knowing I have way too many provisions at home while knowing that other people may be struggling, it was all about getting just enough!

What did it change for you ?

The main thing for me was the loss of freedom and the uncertainty of everything whilst trying to keep my kids happy and healthy when I didn’t really feel that I had any answers for them.

How many loo-rolls can you count in your cupboards?

We have the usual 12 rolls that we normally get, but we did have an extra pack when the lockdown came into force.

Comfort food: picadillo.

I love picadillo, it is a very simple dish with fried minced beef and vegetables (onion, potatoes, carrots and peas). There isn’t really only one recipe for this I think is the ultimate family meal because you can use what you have at home and put something together quick and nutritious for your family. 

My mum would often make this for us when I was little. It reminds me of her and coming back from school to find a steaming pan of picadillo in the kitchen waiting to be served.

Picadillo, a recipe from Susana @lemonysal

  • 1-2 tbsp rapeseed oil ((or any cooking oil of your preference).)
  • 1 yellow onion ((finely chopped).)
  • 500 grams of steak minced beef.
  • 1 tbsp tamari sauce.
  • 2 medium potatoes ((washed, peeled and diced).)
  • 2 carrots ((washed, peeled and diced).)
  • 1 cup of vegetable or chicken stock.
  • 1/2 cup of beer ((recommend IPA).)
  • 1 bay leaf.
  • Sea salt and black coarse pepper to season.
  • 1 cup of frozen peas.
  • 1/2 lemon (juice.)
  1. Add half of the oil to a frying pan until it’s hot enough, then add your onions and stir, you may then add the minced beef and tamari sauce, break the meat into the pan with a wooden spoon and combine with the onions. Cook until the meat gets a bit of colour , transfer this mixture from the pan into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add a bit more oil to your pan and fry the potatoes and carrots lightly, then add the beef onion mixture back into the pan, integrate all the ingredients and add your chicken stock, beer, bay leaf, pinch of salt and pepper, cover your pan with a lid and let it simmer on medium heat until your vegetables are cooked through.
  3. Finally add the frozen peas on top and the lemon juice on top, taste the juices and adjust seasoning if necessary , cover back with a lid for another minute or two, just enough for the peas to cook through but remain fresh and green.
  4. Serve with steamed rice and warm corn tortillas.

How do you cope?

I think it’s been 10 weeks now and we have had our ups and downs during this time, obviously now there is a bit more freedom and things have started to open up slowly again. 

But at the beginning of the lockdown I did find it a bit hard! I must say that doing daily exercise kept me going . 

I’m not an exercise kind of person, but I heard an interview in the news with an astronaut on how they deal with isolation in space. Something he said really stuck with me.  He said, once  you accept your situation (being isolated ) it gets a bit easier and by doing something differently from what you always do in your normal life is what will keep you going.

I took this advice to heart and started doing exercise daily which has been such a good thing to keep up when perhaps there are many things you can’t control, taking care of my health is something that is within my reach to do.

Cooking and taking care of the garden were both lovely therapies too, especially making tortillas in my kitchen  with my little ones is great to do when I feel frustrated and I think for them too.

Where will you go eat once this madness is over?

I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it! Perhaps I’ll finally try Asma Khan food at the Darjeeling Express, I have been meaning to do that for ages maybe now is the time, yes definitely won’t wait ages before doing things. 🙂

Share a wish, just so we can finish on a happy note.

I wish for this experience to change the way we are normally as humans, to make us more empathetic to others and care more about our environment. I don’t know about you but we would definitely not take for granted what we have in the future.

from Surrey with love,


PS: I hope you enjoy picadillo! You can be part of my quarantine cuisine diaries too. If you want to share your experience on Eat Yourself Greek (EYG), please drop me a line here. Thanks, Eugenia

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