In Spanish, carne picada means “minced beef.” This is not to be confused with “carne molida,” which means ground beef. Most carne picada recipes you’ll see call for ground beef, but we’re sticking to the traditional on this one.
You can easily substitute ground beef if you want to save some time, though. In my opinion, the cubed beef tastes much better, though, and makes the meal feel more special.
In our carne picada recipe, we chop beef chuck into 1/4-inch cubes before cooking it. Cutting the beef into cubes like this makes for a much better texture than using ground beef.
Mise en Place
This recipe requires some prep work before you start cooking (mise en place). It’s better to get it done first, instead of scrambling around the kitchen to chop this or that while something’s already in the pan cooking.
Before chopping your ingredients, roast the poblano peppers under your broiler or over a gas flame. Get them completely black on all sides, then put them in a heat-resistant bowl and cover with plastic wrap to cool while you do the rest of your prep work (this helps to loosen the skins).
- Try one of our 12 salsa recipes to help you master Taco Night.
Next, chop the balance of your vegetables and meat. Be sure to first cut any thick layers of fat off the meat, then cut it to the proper size.
We’ve found that quarter-inch chunks make for the best texture for tacos. It’s a lot of cutting, but large pieces make for a challenging taco.
Next, peel the skins off the poblano peppers, remove the seed pods and stems, then chop them into a 1/4-inch dice.
Finally, set everything out in the order that you’ll cook it in. This will make cooking go much more smoothly.
Mise en place is one of the keys to being a great cook. It keeps you from running around the kitchen like a chicken with its head cut off while everything burns. Being able to relax while you cook also makes it a far more pleasant experience.
Serving Carne Picada Tacos
- Refried black beans
- Chopped cilantro
- Diced white onions
- Pickled red onions
- Pickled jalapeños and carrots
- Crumbled queso fresco (or substitute crumbled feta)
- Shredded Oaxaca cheese (or substitute Monterrey Jack)
- Sliced avocados
- Mexican crema
Finally, no taco is complete without salsa. You can buy some of that boring stuff from the store or make one of the fresh salsas from our list of salsa recipes.
Carne Picada Tacos
- 2 poblano peppers
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion - diced small
- 4 serrano peppers - de-stemmed, de-seeded (optional), diced small
- 2 lbs. chuck steak - trimmed of fat and silverskin, and cut into a 1/4-inch dice
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic - minced
- 3 medium roma tomatoes - de-seeded and finely diced
- Preheat your broiler on high with your top rack near the top of the oven. Roast your poblanos in a broiler pan until blackened on all sides. Place in a heat proof bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
- Dice the chuck steak, then salt evenly with 1 teaspoon of salt. Place in a bowl next to your stove. Dice the onions and serrano peppers and place in a bowl near your stove. Place chili powder, cumin, oregano, black pepper, and the minced garlic in a small bowl by your stove.
- De-stem, then cut the tomatoes into quarters. With a spoon, remove all of the seeds and cores. Chop into a very small dice and place in a bowl by your stove. Peel then dice the poblano and place in a bowl by your stove.
- In a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat, saute the onion and serrano peppers with a pinch of salt. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. About 10 minutes
- Add the beef to the pan and saute until well browned. About 8 minutes. Add the seasonings and garlic and saute for an additional minute. Add the onion mixture, poblanos, and tomatoes. Stir well to combine. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with toasted corn tortillas, salsa, crumbled queso fresco, chopped cilantro, and other toppings.