Usually, escondidinho is made topped with mashed cassava and cheese; it follows the same general concept of a cottage pie, popularly known as shepherd’s pie. I prefer it opened, but it is usually covered with yuca dough in most of the recipes.
You can buy frozen yuca/cassava already peeled or use a fresh one. I use frozen yuca for ease of preparation.
If using fresh cassava/yuca, it’s important to peel it first. If you have never peeled a yuca root before, here’s a brief tutorial. Snap the yuca in the middle and make sure you have a white-fleshed tuber (none or minimal black spotting). Cut it into chunks. With a knife, make a cut that goes through the white ring underneath the brown crust and lift it with the blade of the knife. The bark will lift in one piece. Carefully rotate the chunk to continue lifting the white ring and brown peel. Once it is peeled, cut in quarters and trim off the root. Make sure to also trim away any black or green spots that may have formed on the flesh. Then wash the tubers. Note: Do not wash the roots before peeling them. This will be just too messy.
Boil the yuca in salted water until very tender (fork-soft). I use a pressure cooker to save time. It’s ready in just 10 minutes in the pressure cooker and about 30 minutes in a regular pot.
Remove from the heat and drain.
Place cooked cassava on a cutting board, and while cassava is still warm but can be handle without burning, remove the woody fíber from the centre. It is important to make sure to remove and discard fibrous centres.
Place warm cassava into a large bowl, and mash very well using a masher (I use a hand mixer). Stir in the butter, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble and bake
Line a pie pan or baking dish with the yuca dough spread evenly with a spatula or the back of a spoon. If you want it covered, use half, I prefer open, but it is usually covered with the yuca dough in most recipes.
Add your favourite topping: ground beef, shrimp, diced chicken, turkey, fish, dried codfish (bacalhau), pork, Sun-dried Beef/jerked beef (The famous Escondidinho de Carne Seca in Brazil) and also soy or veggies.
Or filling, if want it covered and cover with remaining dough.
Finish by sprinkling parmesan (or mozzarella) cheese on top, distributing uniformly.
Bake at 375°F (190°C) for about 20-30 minutes or until bubbly around edges and lightly browned on top.
Serve it warm by itself or accompanied by a fresh salad or steamed vegetables. Enjoy!!!
What is Yuca (Cassava/manioc)?If you don’t already know what it is, you’re probably wondering what yuca (Cassava/manioc) is. It is a long tuberous starchy root about two inches around and eight inches long. The root has brown fibrous skin and snowy white interior flesh. Because it bruises easily, it’s often sold covered in a protective wax coating. Other names for yuca are cassava, manioc, mandioca, yuca root, Brazilian arrowroot, and tapioca (Starch/Flour/Perl).They say that some types of Yuca (Cassava/manioc) are toxic if eaten raw, so always cook it.Yuca (Cassava/manioc) root is native of South America. It’s widely grown all over Latin America and the Caribbean. The flour made of the root is called tapioca.Images from WikipediaHow to Keep Your Cutting Board from Slipping?A cutting board that slips around as you chop is risky business.The easiest way to keep your board stable is to grab a paper towel or a damp Kitchen Towel (thin cotton), or a piece of the non-slip mat or sponge cloth.Wet it and wring it out as much water as possible, so it's just damp, then lay it out flat on your counter under your cutting board to create traction between the board and the counter.It acts as a grip, preventing your board from moving around.