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Carne Guisada Con Papas

And a Picadillo Variation!

· Mexican Classics


(Stewed Meat and Potatoes

“Picadillo" variation below)

I vividly remember the first time I had this dish. My Mother-in-Law made it one afternoon and served me a plate. She did so somewhat apologetically. “It’s not company food, but its good”, she told me. It smelled so good, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t be “company food.” Stewed pieces of round steak, soft, flavorful cubes of potatoes, and that SAUCE…what the heck was in that sauce??! It was seriously so delicious I wanted to serve it to everyone I knew.

As the weeks, months and years went on, I watched her make “guisada” so many times, and eventually learned how to make it her way. Once Art and I were married, this dish quickly became his most requested dish, (with a few changes we brainstormed together) and he still asks for it all the time. We have made changes in order to fit our much higher-than-hers tolerance for heat, and to sneak in as many fresh veggies in on the kids as possible. Feel free to adjust the spice as you see fit.


2 pounds round steak, cut into small (half inch) pieces

6-8 russet potatoes, peeled, washed and drained, and diced into half inch cubes

1 yellow onion, sliced, chopped, or food processed if you’re me.

2 jalapeños or 2 serranos if you like more heat (like me!)

3 roma tomatoes, seeded and blended (if using a larger tomato, just use 2 or 3)

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 small can tomato sauce

4-5 cups of water or chicken broth (broth is best…water is still great)

2 bay leaves

3 tbsp oil

The following measurements are approximate:

2-3 tsp salt, divided (maybe more, use your taste buds until you’re happy)

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp garlic powder, divided

2 tsp cumin, divided

To Prepare:

Over med/high heat, heat the oil in a dutch oven or large sauce/soup pot that has a lid. Add the chopped meat, and stir to brown. Now season with about a tsp of salt, ½ tsp pepper, ½ tsp cumin and ½ tsp garlic powder.

Reduce heat to medium and add your sliced, chopped or pulverized (that’s me) onion. Continue cooking until onions are starting to become translucent. The time will vary depending on your onion prep method. My onion puree cooks faster than your diced. ;)

Add oil as needed if it “dries up.”

Making sure you’ve got enough oil in the pan now, add the diced potatoes. Stir these around to get just a little bit of a “toast” on them. Cut the tops off of your jalapenos or serranos then slice them in half lengthwise, and add to the pot. Again, stir to toast just a bit. Add the remaining pepper, garlic powder and cumin.

Add your tomato puree and tomato sauce. This will splatter and sizzle. Stir until the sauce begins to bubble.

Top the whole thing with the broth or water. Stir to combine completely. Bring it back to a boil.

Once boiling, add your bay leaves and garlic.

Reduce the heat to low, pop the lid on, and simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally to check for sticking. You want the finished product to be like any other stew; thick, flavorful and full of tender meat and potatoes. If its still too thin or meat isn’t quite tender enough, just add more time. It’s not an exact science, so do whatever works for ya. Once the meat and potatoes are tender (about an hour in), you can take the lid off to allow some of the liquid to evaporate and get this dish finished up! I usually cook another 20 minutes or so.

Once it is thickened, test the seasoning. You don’t want to over-season in the beginning because the flavors really intensify as it cooks. Add more salt, pepper, garlic and cumin as you desire!

As you serve up, fish out the bay leaves and and serve with hot tortillas (The hubby says flour only for this one, I disagree) and enjoy! The leftovers make GREAT burritos. Company loves them.

Variation to make “Picadillo” the more traditional way: Use ground beef instead of round steak, and add sliced (or diced) carrots. About 4 of them. That’s it!


**For more of our Mexican dishes, click the "Mexican Classics" category above.

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