Back in college my two sisters and I lived in a boarding house and whoever comes home first will have to cook dinner and that unfortunately for all of us, was most of the time, me. As much as we dreaded my cooking, we didn’t have a choice then, but to eat it. We lived in a monthly budget which is not much and we have to make sure that it will last for about month or so.

Our mom buys the meat for us, a good month’s supply; she would divide it into portions and label it and give us instructions before she goes back home to the province. It was complete, there’s a portion for menudo, adobo, pang-guisa (for sauteed dishes) and of course the ground pork.

My way of stretching our food supply before was turning every dish I make into soup. My version of adobo and menudo were all swimming in water. I remember nanayA (the old lady who runs the boarding house) would always peek at what I was cooking and always had a good laugh over my dishes. She was a nice old lady really, like a grandma to me and my sisters; she just can’t help herself, I even laugh along with her at myself, I was a hopeless cook, I knew that but at least it’s edible, that’s what I always tell her and my sisters weren’t complaining.

Picadillo though was the only one that I could make decently enough. Even if I put a lot of water in it, the vegetables seemed to absorb most of them and my picadillo doesn’t turn out as watery as the other dishes I make. It was my one and only delicious dish.

Over the years I have improved my cooking skills and with it too my favorite dishes. Below is a recipe of my much-improved picadillo. It is one of my kids’ favorite. Improve on it if you like, you can add raisins to it and some cut-up sausages or hotdogs, my mom used to do just that on occasions. I hope you would try and make it for your family too.


cook/saute  garlic, onions and ground pork in a pan

add in the tomato sauce

add water, cook for ten minutes or more, then add carrots and veggies


add green peas and sweert corn..you may also add raisins if you like

serves 4

10 oz ground pork ( or beef or half-beef and half-pork)
1 red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup tomato sauce
2 medium potatoes, about 7 ounces, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
about 2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt and/or fish sauce to taste
cooking oil

In a saucepan or pan, heat a teaspoon of cooking oil and saute the garlic and onions. Add the ground meat, season with sea salt and pepper and cook until browned; Discard any excess oil, especially if the ground meat is not lean or drain the meat then put back in the pan. Add the tomato sauce and 1 1/2 – 2 cups of water. Season with fish sauce or sea salt, it may seem watery at this stage, but don’t worry most of it will evaporate and get absorbed by the veggies.

Cover the pan and cook ground meat for about 15 minutes; add in the diced potatoes and carrots. Cook covered until almost tender about 10 minutes. Add the corn and frozen peas. Cook for 5 minutes. Taste it and adjust if necessary. That’s it!

Serve this delicious dish with rice.

note: You can use this as filing for burger buns (ala Sloppy Joe’s and empanadas; just add less water and tomato sauce and cook the dish until most of the liquid is gone.

Happy Cooking!

Olive 🙂

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