Picadillo Vainica

Photo © Madeleine Hill

Picadillo Vainica


Last spring, F&W contributing editor Andrew Zimmern was driving across Costa Rica with his family and stopped in a cafeteria in a small mountain town where he sampled the local picadillo, a traditional ground beef dish. “The beef and green beans play well together, and the easy elegance of this dish will quite simply blow your mind,” Zimmern says.


  1. 1 tablespoon fennel seed

  2. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  3. 1/3 cup minced shallot

  4. 1/4 cup minced cilantro

  5. 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  6. 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  7. 1 dried hot red chile, such as árbol

  8. Kosher salt

  9. 1 pound ground beef

  10. 3/4 pound green beans, thinly sliced crosswise on a bias

  11. 3/4 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth

  12. 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  13. Pepper

  14. Yellow rice and lime wedges, for serving

  1. In a large skillet, toast the fennel seeds over moderate heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar or spice grinder and let cool, then grind to a powder.
  2. In the same skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the shallot, cilantro, garlic, oregano, chile, ground fennel and a generous pinch of salt and cook over high heat until the vegetables are softened, about 1 minute. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until nicely browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the beans and stock and cook, stirring, until the beans are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve with yellow rice and lime wedges.