Superb Soups

Sam’s picadillo

Sam’s picadillo |

In 2003, I posted a recipe for picadillo that was such a far cry from the traditional. Instead of ground beef, I hand cut stewing beef into small cubes. And, instead of adding potatoes OR chayote to the beef, I added potatoes, carrots AND chayote. It’s been our standard picadillo recipe since. Until yesterday.

We were in the supermarket two days ago and Sam asked if I could cook picadillo during the weekend. I was a little surprised. Sam does not like beef — not since she saw newly slaughtered cows in the wet market. So before answering her, I confirmed first if she really wanted picadillo because picadillo has beef in it. She said no beef. Use pork instead AND upo (bottle gourd). Okay, I said. Not traditional but when have we ever been traditional with our food?

For lunch yesterday, I cooked Sam’s requested dish. And, to make sure that I was being fair to my girls, I cooked chicken teriyaki, one of Alex’s favorite chicken dishes, to go with the picadillo. We were halfway through lunch when both girls asked if I could pack some of the picadillo to bring to the condo. They liked it that much, huh? Well, I cooked a large pot of picadillo. So, why not?

Sam's picadillo
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
Servings: 4 to 6
Author: Connie Veneracion
  • 1 whole upo (bottle gourd) about 18 inches long
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 400 grams coarsely ground pork
  • 4 to 6 cups bone broth
  • patis (fish sauce) to taste
  • freshly milled black pepper
  1. To prepare the upo, cut about half an inch off both ends. You may cut the upo into halves or thirds for easier handling. Using a small sharp utility knife, cut off the skin.
  2. Then, cut the skinned upo vertically into halves to expose the center. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Cut the flesh into half-inch cubes.
  3. Heat the cooking oil in a pot.
  4. Saute the onion and tomatoes. Do this over medium heat until the vegetables start to liquefy.
  5. Add the garlic. Saute for another minute.
  6. Turn up the heat. Add the ground pork to the pot. Season with fish sauce and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the pork is no longer pink.
  7. Pour in the broth.
  8. Add the upo cubes.
  9. Taste and add more fish sauce and pepper.
  10. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about ten minutes or until the upo cubes are tender.
  11. Serve hot.
  12. Sam's picadillo
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