This Beef Picadillo Skillet Pot Pie is not concerned with appearances. It’s very confident of its inner worth (flavor), so don’t sweat it if yours comes out looking disheveled.
And while a pot pie might not be first on your list of go-to Mexican dishes, you’ll be gobsmacked at how well a light, flaky pastry combines with the hearty nature of the Picadillo. It’s perfect for days when you’re craving some serious comfort food.
Beef Picadillo Skillet Pot Pie
Let’s get something out in the open right away…
Pastry dough can be a stubborn, irritable old bird and most people don’t want to spend too much time around it. Yes, store-bought pie crusts should work fine here, but I think it’s worth trying out a homemade batch. You’ll get a delicious, flaky crust that makes it worthwhile to conquer the homemade realm.
I’ll include the key tricks in this post, but for further info you can check out this helpful King Arthur YouTube vid on pie crust. It addresses a lot of the concerns people have when approaching the pastry bench.
We’ve had good success with the pastry dough used in our Beef and Cheese Empanadas and we’ll be using a similar version of that today (empanada dough recipe here.) Keep in mind that you are welcome to tweak the pastry dough to your liking, i.e. feel free to use shortening or lard in place of the butter (or in tandem).
Add 3 1/4 cups of flour to a mixing bowl along with 1.5 teaspoons of salt and 1.5 sticks of cold butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
Use your hands to break up the butter into the flour. Don’t worry about disintegrating all of the butter into the flour, just combine it until it’s crumbly and you have pea-sized chunks of butter laying about. These fat pockets help create flakiness in the final product.
In a bowl, combine 2 eggs with 1/2 cup of ice cold water. Add this a few tablespoons at a time to the flour, using a spoon or spatula to incorporate it until the dough starts to come together.
Dump the mixture onto a work surface. You don’t have to knead it too much, just combine it enough until you have a shaggy, semi-cohesive ball of dough.
The dough recipe is enough for 2 crusts that can each cover a 10-inch pan. Divide the dough into two parts and shape them into discs, then cover with plastic and put them in the fridge for an hour or so.
This gives you plenty of time to work on the Picadillo. If you’re new to Picadillo you’re in for a treat! It’s a hearty meat-n-potatoes dish that can be customized in all sorts of ways.
Technically you’ll only need about a half hour to prepare the Picadillo. If you just put pastry dough in the fridge then feel free to lay down, stare at the ceiling, and try to figure out what year it was on planet Earth when Picadillo was made for the first time.
Start by roasting six Roma tomatoes in a 400F oven. I usually rinse them off and cut out the stems before putting them in the oven. They’ll need about 20 minutes or so.
Then cook 1/4 onion in some oil over medium heat in an ovensafe pan.
We’re combining the baking of the pastry with the final simmer of the Picadillo, so using an oven-safe pan is the easiest way to accomplish this. If you don’t have an oven-safe pan then you can transfer everything to a baking dish as a final step.
Add 2 minced cloves of garlic, saute briefly, and then add 1 lb. ground beef and 1 teaspoon of salt.
Cook until just browned. The beef has an extended simmer coming up so don’t worry about cooking it all the way through. (You can drain off some fat here if you want.)
Add a diced carrot and potato to the mixture.
Let this saute briefly as you gather the other ingredients.
Add the roasted tomatoes to a blender along with 3/4 onion, 1 jalapeno, and 2 garlic cloves. Combine well.
This is essentially a batch of Tomato Jalapeno Salsa and it’s a great shortcut to infuse the Picadillo with its traditional flavors. Add this to the beef mixture and combine well.
We also add 1 teaspoon of cumin, some freshly cracked black pepper, another pinch of salt, and 2 teaspoons of this Chili Powder mixture. The chili powder is optional; but keep it in mind for additional flavor.
Bring to a simmer and take a taste for seasoning.
Normally this needs about 20-25 minutes to cook the potatoes, but since we are putting this dish in the oven I usually only simmer it for 5 minutes or so, just enough so that the liquid reduces down a bit.
It kinda depends which pan you’re using too. You don’t necessarily want liquid coming up to the rim of the pan as this could prevent the pastry from cooking. Feel free to remove some of the liquid if this is the case. And if the opposite happens, i.e. not enough liquid for the potatoes to simmer in, then feel free to add stock or water as we did in the original Picadillo recipe.
Okay, pastry time! Take the dough out of the fridge and let it adjust to room temp for a few minutes. Flour your work surface (and rolling pin) and roll out the dough so that it’s a couple inches wider then the pan you’re using.
Use sprinklings of flour to mend any wet spots. And if you find yourself annoyed and becoming convinced this will never work then you are right on schedule!
Drape it over your skillet and trim off any stragglers. (You could also use a paring knife to clean it up a bit and approximate a circle while it’s still on the work surface.)
Here’a good video on crimping the edges but for this batch I just folded the outer portion into a lip inside the pan edge.
Spread eggwash over the top, season with salt, and use the tip of a knife to poke a few vents into the top. For the eggwash just add a single egg to a bowl and whisk it together with 1-2 tablespoons of water. (You can also baste the edges of the pan with eggwash before putting the dough on top if you want; this will help it seal together as it cooks.)
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top turns golden brown and the edges are turning darker brown. Here’s what ours looked like after 35 minutes.
Note the repair job we did on the top, outer portion of the dough. You can use the trimmed off dough bits for any blowouts you get while positioning the dough. And don’t forget that it will taste better if it looks rustic, i.e. wounded and disheveled.
Let this rest for a few minutes and then have at it.
If all went according to plan you’ve got some flavorbomb Picadillo inside and a flaky delight on top. It’s such a great combo and your comfort food boundaries will instantly expand.
And of course, don’t worry about making it pretty when you serve it. Just be sure that each serving of Picadillo is accompanied by a nice triangle of pastry and your family/friends will be over the moon.
Here’s what our top crust looked like from the perspective of a happy Picadillo eater.
Notice the layers and flakiness of the pastry? To summarize all the hard work you put into this skillet pot pie, it’s a combo of things that leads to these flaky delights, things like… using cold fat (butter) to start with, using ice cold water, lack of kneading, chilling the dough before use, getting annoyed when rolling it out.
It really is a delicious combo and worth experimenting with if you’ve got pot pies on the brain. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below or you can always send me an email.
Beef Picadillo Skillet Pot Pie
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 potato
- 1 carrot
- 1/4 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons chili powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- freshly cracked black pepper
For the Tomato Jalapeno blender mixture:
- 6 plum tomatoes
- 3/4 onion
- 1 jalapeno
- 2 garlic cloves
For the pastry dough:
- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 6 oz. butter (1.5 sticks)
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 2 small eggs
- 1/2 cup ice cold water
- 1 egg (for the eggwash)
- Start by mixing 1.5 teaspoons of salt into 3 1/4 cups of flour. Dice up 6 oz. of cold butter (1.5 sticks) into small 1/2" chunks and plop them into the flour. Use your fingers to disintegrate the butter into the mixture but don't worry about getting all of the butter dissolved. Mix it in just enough to make the mixture crumbly with a few chunks of butter laying about.
- In a bowl, combine 2 small eggs and 1/2 cup ice cold water. Add this mixture to the flour incrementally using a spoon or spatula to roughly combine.
- Dump the mixture onto a work surface but resist the temptation to knead! Just combine it enough to form a cohesive ball. Cut into two parts and form a round disc with each half. Cover with plastic and chill in the fridge for an hour or so.
- After rinsing the tomatoes and cutting out the stems, roast them in a 400F oven for 20-25 minutes or until you need them.
- Saute 1/4 onion in oil over medium heat for a few minutes (preferably in an oven-safe pan). Add 2 minced garlic cloves and saute briefly. Add 1 lb. ground beef and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat until the ground beef is lightly browned.
- Chop the potato and carrot into smallish pieces. Once the beef is lightly browned, add the potato and carrot. Saute briefly as you gather the additional ingredients.
- For the Tomato-Jalapeno mixture, add the roasted tomatoes to a blender or food processor along with 3/4 onion, 2 garlic cloves and 1 jalapeno. Combine well.
- Add the Tomato-Jalapeno mixture to the beef, along with 1 teaspoon cumin, some freshly cracked black pepper, and another pinch of salt. I also add 2 teaspoons of this chili powder mixture but that is optional.
- Combine well and simmer for 5-10 minutes, taking a final taste for seasoning. Feel free to adjust the amount of liquid in the pan before baking; ideally the beef mixture reaches the top of the pan but the liquid does not.
- Remove one of the pastry dough discs from the fridge and let it come up to room temp. Flour your work surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough out so that it's a couple inches wider than your pan. Sprinkle with flour if the dough is sticking anywhere.
- Drape the dough over the skillet. You can crimp the dough any way you want; for this batch I just folded it into a lip and tucked it inside the pan.
- Brush the dough with eggwash (1 egg combined with 1-2 tablespoons of water) and be sure to get the edges too. Season with salt and poke some knife holes in the top for venting.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the edges are just starting to turn darker brown.
- Let rest for a few minutes and then serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.