Yummm!!! Our dish today is Escondidinho de Frango (or Brazilian Chicken Shepherd’s Pie), a variation of the popular Escondidinho de Carne Seca (“Sun-dried Beef Shepherd’s Pie”) from my native Northeast region of Brazil. A true one dish wonder or casserole that can be made from leftovers. Happy? If only you could see my beaming smile…
Originally, escondidinho (pronounced es-kohn-jee-JEEN-yoo or es-kohn-dee-DEEN-yoo, depending on the region of Brazil) was made from carne seca (sun-dried beef) topped with mashed cassava and cheese (queijo de coalho). As you see, it follows the same general concept of a cottage pie, popularly known as shepherd’s pie. But just as cottage pie has its many variations, so does its Brazilian fellow, escondidinho. Nowadays, escondidinho may be made from chicken, charque (a meat similar to jerked beef), shrimp, ground beef, or codfish, among other things. One has not changed though… It is always topped with mashed cassava or yuca and cheese (mostly queijo de coalho). Although halloumi cheese from Cyprus has a similar taste and texture to queijo de coalho, I adapted my escondidinho de frango to incorporate a simple melting cheese (e.g. fontina, cheddar, gouda, gruyère, asiago, etc). Similar to the cottage pie in its origins, escondidinho was a dish created by the poor and affordable to all.
Escondidinho de frango can be served by itself (one dish wonder) or accompanied by a fresh salad or steamed vegetables. It’s really up to you!
I made this escondidinho de frango — along with other dishes– for a Brazilian friend’s baby shower that I hosted at my house. I was so happy to eat it again after such a long time, as well as to see everyone’s else excitement at having escondidinho de frango.
I do hope you enjoy this escondidinho de frango as much as we all did…
- For the mashed cassava/yuca:
- 2.2 pounds (1 kg) cassava or yuca, frozen or fresh (if you prefer, use potatoes instead)
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened or melted
- 1 to 1-1/4 heavy cream (or whole milk or coconut milk), warm
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Knorr chicken flavored bouillon powder (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups of any shredded melting cheese of your preference (e.g.Gruyère, white cheddar, fontina, gouda, etc)
- For the chicken:
- 6 strips of thick-cut, uncooked smoked bacon, medium diced
- ½ large yellow onion, small diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-1/2 pounds (about 700 g) roasted chicken, shredded
- 1 cup collard greens, cut into thin strips
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup cooked corn kernels
- ¼ cup chopped parsley or cilantro
- To prepare the mashed cassava/yuca: If using fresh cassava or yuca, peel it first (frozen cassava, such as Goya brand, is already peeled). Then, place peeled cassava in a pot filled with cold water and let boil over high heat for about 15-20 minutes or until fork-soft. Remove from the heat, reserve about 1 cup of the water, and drain. Place cooked cassava on a cutting board and while cassava is still warm but can be handle without burning, remove the woody fiber from the center. Place warm cassava back into the pot, pour the reserved warm water on top, and mash very well using a masher. Stir in the butter, heavy cream, chicken bouillon (optional), salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Cheese will be used later in the assembling of the dish!
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Butter or spray (with non stick cooking spray) a 13 x 9-inch (about 33 x 23 cm) baking dish and set aside.
- To prepare the chicken: In a medium to large non stick dutch oven, cook the diced bacon over medium-high heat for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, place into a bowl or plate, and set aside. In the same pan where bacon has just cooked, sweat the onion in the residual bacon fat over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the minced garlic and let cook for about 1 minute over medium heat. Add the shredded chicken and sauté over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the greens and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the wine and let almost evaporate. Stir in the tomato sauce, the reserved cooked bacon, and salt and pepper to taste. Let cook uncovered over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the cooked corn kernels, and the chopped parsley or cilantro. Set aside.
- To assemble the escondidinho de frango (chicken pie): Spoon chicken mixture in one single layer into the greased baking dish. Layer mashed cassava/yuca on top of the chicken layer. Finish by sprinkling shredded cheese on top of the mashed cassava/yuca, distributing uniformly. Cover tightly with a sheet of aluminum foil (Please, make sure that the foil does not touch the cheese or grease the inner part of the foil with cooking spray so cheese won't stick to the foil). Bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve escondidinho de frango warm by itself or accompanied by a fresh salad or steamed vegetables. Enjoy!!!
Escondidinho de frango is a delicious casserole made from chicken, mashed cassava/yuca, and cheese…Escondid