Now here is a simple recipe for mandioca, Escondidinho(a little hidden) As the name suggests you can hide just about any ingredients under that heavenly cloud of starchy goodness, sealed in a blanket of heart stopping cheese much like a “Gratin” but tropical! Traditionally the Nordestino’s use Carne de sol (a cut of beef left to dry in the sun covered in salt, a similar technique to bacalhau) very popular in the North East regions of Brazil and in Bahia they use seafood. You can use just about any ingredients you desire here, it’s not limited to this recipe, all you need is the base ingredients, then the rest is up to your own imagination. Experiment with what you have around the kitchen or garden and serve with what ever you desire, here I have served with seared rump cap and a vinegarette. So on with the recipe……
ESCONDIDINHO-(of Mushroom,leek, Zucchini and mozzarella)
-1kg of fresh or frozen mandioca(cassava)
-2 tblspns of butter(unsalted)
-1/4 cup of milk
– 200g of grated haloumi(quiejo coalho equivalent)
-salt to taste
-2 Zucchini’s sliced
-1/2 a leek sliced
-300g of button mushrooms sliced
-250g of fresh buffalo mozzarella
-2 tblspns of a good white wine
-1 tblspns of olive oil
-1/2 tblspn of butter(unsalted)
-2 cloves of garlic crushed
– 3 to 4 sprigs of your favourite fresh herbs(i used thyme in this case)
-salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 200 degrees, you want a hot oven solely to melt the cheese and brown the top , all elements to the dish are pre-cooked.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil for your mandioca. Peel your mandioca (if fresh) if frozen defrost and remove the hard string like core(very important to remove this core from mandioca as it is like eating wood) cut into large even pieces not to small or the mandioca will become water logged. Boil till soft, remove and drain.
Now the purê, you can do this 2 ways depending on the result you want. For a smooth purê use a food processor or if you prefer your purê coarse use the hand method in a large bowl. To the mandioca add your butter, and the milk gradually just to loosen up the purê, keep in mind that mandioca has the highest starch content of any vegetable so it will be quite sticky to work with. Once you have your desired texture add salt and nutmeg to taste.
Next your filling, in a medium sized heavy skillet on a medium heat, add your butter, olive oil, leek, garlic and thyme. Once lightly browned add your zucchini and mushroom, up the heat and then add the wine, once you’ve cooked off the wine reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes add salt and pepper to taste.
In individual ramekins or a large rounded baking dish, your choice, make your layers. First layer a generous amount of your filling topped with some torn mozzarella cover with the purê then haloumi or quiejo coalho.
Add to your preheated oven, brown the cheese until it is golden and bubbles, remove and serve.
Here is a little something to listen to while you prepare your Escondidinho.
“Kilariô” from the rare 1975 self titled lp by Di Melo , originating from Pernambuco(North East Brazil)