A picadillo recipe that a daughter loved. TikTok inspired her to make it After her mother died, using tips from her aunts, Miriam Piccolo re-created a dish that tastes like home to her. Coming home from school to this meal meant that her mom had been thinking about her.

She loved Mom's picadillo but never got the recipe. TikTok moved her to get creative

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1136071400/1139147109" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A MART├ŹNEZ, HOST:

Every family has that one dish, the recipe that takes you back to childhood. You know the one - the one that your mom has down pat and your grandma can make with her eyes closed.

Well, starting this month, NPR is sharing your kitchen gems in a series we're calling All Things We're Cooking. We asked our audience to send us their special family recipes, and we're sharing those favorites and the stories behind them.

This morning, we're starting with Miriam Armendariz Piccolo, who started sharing hearty bowls of picadillo with her mom. We spoke to her around the anniversary of her mom's passing, and she told us how she learned to make the dish with a little help from her tias.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUSTAVO SANTAOLALLA'S "COYITA")

MIRIAM ARMENDARIZ PICCOLO: I'm Miriam Armendariz Piccolo. Right now, I'm living in Little Rock, Ark.

I was born in Jalisco. We grew up pretty low-income in Mexico. There's a reason why we had to emigrate to the U.S. We were unintentional vegetarians. We ate a lot of potatoes, beans, cactus, rice - very, very simple foods.

So this is a picadillo dish. It is ground beef, potatoes with chili sauce. My dad wasn't too big of a fan of it. My brother wasn't too big of a fan of it. So when we came to the U.S., if my mom was to make this dish, this was my dish. I knew she was making it for me. She was thinking about me some way, somehow that day. And it could have been because she was loving me or maybe angry at me or maybe I had disappointed her, but I was on her mind in some way.

I never got the recipe from my mom. My mom was the one that would say, a pinch of this, and add some chilies. And she was so vague with it that I was like, I don't know what that means. So I had to text my aunts. I was like, how do you guys make picadillo?

(SOUNDBITE OF GUSTAVO SANTAOLALLA'S "APERTURA")

PICCOLO: Cook up some ground beef in its own fat. Peel and dice some potatoes, throw it in there. Put the lid on. At the same time that you're doing this, reconstitute into boiling water a couple guajillo peppers, like half a Roma tomato, (speaking Spanish) a clove of garlic, a little piece of onion, some oregano.

You have to trust your hand because as we get older, our hand is going to get seasoned. You're going to learn whether to grab a pinch with two fingers or a pinch with all your fingers. And as you get older, that will come to you.

Once that gets cooked up, puree it and add it to the potatoes and the ground beef. Season it and cook it till the potatoes are tender. Serve it with a squeeze of lemon, good hearty corn tortillas, and it will fill you up knowing that it really was made with love.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUSTAVO SANTAOLALLA'S "PAMPA")

PICCOLO: You know, since she's passed, there's no news to update somebody about. You no longer share things about them. But I wanted to show my aunts that I'm still carrying my mom. You know, I still got her memories and her skills. Like, I'm still bringing them with me.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUSTAVO SANTAOLALLA'S "PAMPA")

MART├ŹNEZ: That was Miriam Armendariz Piccolo sharing her mom's recipe for picadillo. To try out the recipe and others from the series, search All Things We're Cooking at npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUSTAVO SANTAOLALLA'S "PAMPA")

Copyright © 2022 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.