Picadillo with rice, or arroz con picadillo, is a very traditional dish in Spain. It's typically served during the fall season of the matanza, when folks gather around to butcher the Ibérico pigs and prepare all sorts of fresh cuts, sausages, and preserved meats.
One of the most important sausages and charcuterie is chorizo, the smoky paprika-laden delicacy served all over the country. But before the chorizo meat is packed into casings (a real art and community event), people will break for lunch and prepare a picadillo of the chorizo meat all on its own, with fluffy rice.
Here's how to make this traditional Spanish recipe yourself:
Rice with Picadillo Recipe
Picadillo with rice is a hearty dish you can absolutely eat all year round, but it really flexes in winter. It's a mix of salt, pork cuts, and spices, usually with sweet and spicy paprika, and a variety of smoky peppers used especially for chorizo. It's often served with a fried egg on top for creamy textures and extra protein, but it's totally optional.
- 15 oz. soft chorizo, casings removed
- 1/2 cup uncooked short grain white rice
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 Tablespoons tomato sauce
- 1 red bell pepper, julienned
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Water
- Coarse salt
- Hot paprika
- Remove the chorizo from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
- Drizzle some oil in large sauté pan and bring to low heat. Sauté the picadillo, being careful not to burn it.
- Add the pepper and onion and cook until the vegetables soften and the onion is transparent.
- Add in the rice and let it fry a little in the oils and veggies. Feel free to add more olive oil if the pan looks too dry. You don't want to the rice to stick or burn.
- Season the mixture with salt, add the tomato sauce, and then stir to combine.
- Let the rice and meat cook for a few minutes and then add in the water.
- Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat, and let the whole thing cook for 18 to 20 minutes. The cook time will depend on the brand of rice you are using, but the rice is ready once it is soft and has absorbed all of the water. If the rice is still too hard even after all the water has been absorbed, add more hot water until the rice is fully cooked to your liking.
- Once the rice is cooked, stir in the hot paprika.
- Remove from picadillo from the heat and serve. ¡Buen provecho!
Tips for Preparation Picadillo with Rice
This is a straightforward, one-pot dish that comes together quickly. Cooking the rice in the pot allows the the chorizo to coat the rice in the delicious fat and also helps absorb it all the delicious flavors in the pan. Some folks, however, prefer to prepare the picadillo separately from the rice to have better control over the rice's texture and ensure the picadillo is perfectly cooked and even a little crispy. Both are totally delicious. Try both and see what works for you.
How to Accompany Rice with Picadillo
Once you have the recipe ready to go, we love to add a fried egg to the dish. It's totally optional, but it's a classic accompaniment to rice with picadillo.
You can fry the egg separately in a pan and place it on top of the dish, which gives you that perfectly creamy yolk and crispy white edges. Or you can crack the eggs over the meat and rice in the big pan as it finishes cooking. Cover it for a few minutes and the egg will steam and cook to perfection.
You can also serve rice and picadillo with boiled or fried potatoes for an even more filling dish. The bold smoky flavors and rich texture of picadillo are the perfect accompaniment to neutral starches.