Escondidinho is a typical dish from the region of Northeast Brazil. To be more specific, a dish from Pernambuco kitchen with its roots in African cuisine.
The base of this dish could not be more Northeasty: shredded beef jerky, mashed cassava and grated cheese. The meat is hidden underneath the puree and hence the name Escondidinho, which means “the little hidden one”.
The dish has also become very popular in some bars in Sao Paulo, and it won the heart (or better saying, stomach) of Sao Paulo as it is one of the best matches for a cold beer.
On the other hand here in Sydney, the only place where I can buy the beef jerky is in the Portuguese suburb Petersham and unfortunately it is a little far from the where I live.
I was craving for escondidinho and I had no dried meat or cheese curd at home, so I decided to vary the recipe and prepare a chicken and parmesan escondidinho instead.
Here’s my recipe…
1 chicken breast
2 cube chicken stock
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
2 tspn olive oil
chopped parsley to taste
2l boiling water
750g peeled and cooked cassava
1 cup milk
1/2 chopped onion
2 tbsp butter
100g Parmesan cheese
In a pressure cooker, fry half an onion and garlic in olive oil. Then, add the chicken breast. Add chicken stock and salt. Stir chicken until golden brown. Add water in the pressure cooker to cover the chicken. Lid the pressure cooker and cook the chicken over medium heat for about 20 minutes after the cooker reaches pressure.
Remove the chicken from pressure cooker and use 2 forks to shred it. The chicken will be pretty much falling apart.
In a saucepan, fry the other half of onion in olive oil. Add the shredded chicken, parsley and stir it for 5 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat and set aside.
If you think the chicken dry, drizzle it with a bit of olive oil.
Mash the cooked cassava while it is still hot.
In a saucepan, fry half onion in melted butter. Mix the cassava, milk and a salt. Stir well until it looses from the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and mix the chopped parsley. Put aside.
In an ovenproof glass bowl, make a generous layer of chicken, a generous layer of mashed potatoes and finish covering with Parmesan cheese.
Bake until cheese is golden brown.
I like to double cook the chicken because It further infuses the flavours of onion and olive oil but if you can just shredded it and skip the second bit if you wish.
Mash the cassava and make the puree while it is still hot, otherwise the startch will become really hard to work with.
If you find that the amount of chicken is too much, you can freeze what’s left. Shredded chicken can well be used as filling for pancakes and sandwiches.