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Brazilian Style Shepherd’s Pie (Escondidinho de Frango)

brazilian shepherd's pie with yuca

Escondidinho is popular all over Brazil as an inexpensive yet tasty comfort dish. It is, essentially, a shepherd’s pie, with a few classic Brazilian twists. The most important difference between shepherd’s pie and escondidinho is the topping: instead of the mashed potato layer of a traditional cottage pie, escondidinho substitutes whipped yuca root (or cassava).  

The meat layer of escondidinho is also subject to variation depending on the region and personal preferences. While traditional shepherd’s pie tends to favor ground beef, pork, or lamb, escondidinho can incorporate a wide array of proteins. 

The original Brazilian shepherd’s pies used dried and salted meat as the bottom layer. Today, escondidinho can be made with whatever meat you choose, from shrimp to beef. We will be using shredded chicken, which pairs beautifully with the sauteed vegetables and creamy yuca topping. It is also a bit lighter than ground beef or pork, but feel free to substitute whichever meat you like. 

What is Yuca?

Yuca, also known as manioc or cassava, is a shrub native to South America. It is cultivated predominantly for its root, which is starchy and a good source of carbohydrates. The root is eaten in much the same way as a potato, usually boiled, baked or fried. Like the potato, a powdered starch is also processed from the root and used in place of wheat flour in many parts of the world, including Brazil. You may also know this flour by the name, “tapioca starch.” 

Can You Make Vegan Escondidinho?

Of course! For the vegan “meat” layer, you could easily substitute some hearty roast vegetables and a nutritious legume, like lentils. This recipe for stewed lentils with eggplant would make a perfect vegan base for your Brazilian shepherd’s pie.

For a vegan version of your whipped yuca, swap out the butter for cashew butter and substitute a nut milk of your choice, preferably plain soy or cashew. 

Mashed Potatoes vs Yuca for Brazilian Shepherd’s Pie

Although the yuca is a decidedly Brazilian component of this dish, you can certainly substitute potatoes if you wish. Many Brazilians also use mashed potatoes for their escondidinho casserole. Yukon gold and russet potatoes make for the creamiest topping, but you can use any potatoes you like. Again, you can keep it dairy free by using cashew butter and milk. Use the same volume of potatoes as you would yuca. 

Brazilian Style Shepherd’s Pie (Escondidinho de Frango)


For the Yuca Mash

2 lbs yuca root, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk (you can use skim, if you want)
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

For the Chicken

1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup chopped collard greens or kale
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup white wine (not sweet)
1/4 cup shredded carrots
¼ cup sweet green peas
Kosher salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Cook the chicken. Put the chicken breasts in a large stock pot and cover with water completely. Add 2 tsp of salt to the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium. Cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through (about 20 minutes).
  3. Shred the chicken on a plate with two forks. Set aside. 
  4. In another pot, put your diced yuca root and cover with more salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and cook the yuca until fork tender (20-25 minutes).
  5. While the yuca simmers, melt the butter and warm the whole milk in the microwave for about 1 minute. 
  6. When the yuca is finished, pour in the melted butter and warmed milk. Add in your cracked black pepper and whip with a hand mixer until creamy and uniform. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Set your mashed yuca aside. 
  7. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Pour in a drizzle of oil, and add in your diced onion and carrots. Cook until softened, about 2 minutes. 
  8. Now add in the garlic and cook for another thirty seconds until just fragrant. 
  9. Add the shredded chicken, collard greens, and peas to the pot. Mix in the tablespoon of tomato paste. 
  10. Cover with the white wine and chicken stock. 
  11. Simmer your chicken mixture over medium heat until the liquid has mostly evaporated.  Taste for salt and add more as needed.
  12. Layer your chicken mixture in the bottom of a non-stick casserole dish. 
  13. Spread the whipped yuca mash over the top of the chicken. Top with cheese.
  14. Bake your casserole until the cheese is melted and the yuca is golden brown around the edges (40 minutes). 


Other Great Recipes to Try:


Lebanese Brazilian Food: Fried Kibbeh

plate of fried kibbeh from brazil

Immigration from the Levantine Region to Brazil began in the late 19th century. The Ottoman Empire had collapsed, resulting in uncertain political and economic futures for the citizens of Lebanon and Syria. Between 1885 and 1933, over 130,000 Lebanese immigrants arrived in Brazil through the Port of Santos. 

Today, over 7 million Brazilians claim Lebanese descent. This number is greater than the population of Lebanon itself, so it is no surprise that Lebanese culture is quite prevalent in many parts of Brazil. This is particularly true of Lebanese cuisine, which can be found readily in almost every city. Favorite Brazilian Lebanese dishes include hummus, tabbouleh, sfiha, and sweet halwas drizzled with honey. 

Another favorite Lebanese dish in Brazil is kibbeh. Traditional kibbeh are a kind of croquette made by pounding a mixture of lamb, spices, fresh mint, and onions. The mixture is rolled together into a football shape and stuffed into a shell made from a blend of bulgur wheat and more minced lamb and spices. 

Kibbeh in Brazil

Brazilian kibbeh are similar to the traditional Lebanese croquettes, but the meat of choice is typically beef instead of lamb. There is also a raw version known as kibbeh cru. This is often compared to a French steak tartare, but the presence of those Levantine spices make it quite unique. 

Brazilian kibbeh may also be stuffed with various fillings, including requeijao (Brazilian cream cheese). 

What is Bulgur?

The bulgur used to form the shell of the kibbeh is made from cracked whole kernels of wheat (usually durum wheat) that are then par boiled. This precooking method means that bulgur can be prepared much faster than other versions. 

Bulgur is a very popular whole grain in the Middle East, where it has been used in various recipes for thousands of years. Tabbouleh salad, for example, incorporates bulgur wheat, tomatoes, onions, fresh mint, and a tangy lemon dressing.

What Is a Good Bulgur Substitute?

If you do not have or do not want to use bulgur, many recipes use wheat couscous instead. Plain white rice, farro, or barley can also be used. 

Gluten free bulgur substitutes include quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and millet.   

For kibbeh, the grain most similar in flavor is barley. However, barley will take much longer to cook, since it has not been parboiled. For a gluten-free substitute for kibbeh, we recommend millet. Again, you may need to adjust the cooking time to ensure it is tender. 

Do I Have to Use Mince Meat in Brazilian Kibbeh?

No, you can use a vegan alternative, like chickpeas, to form your shell and filling. You may need to experiment with the quantities to form a good binding, or you can just try this delicious recipe with chickpeas, dates, walnuts, and red onions.

What is Kibbeh Spice Made Out Of?

Kibbehs are spiced with a special blend known as kamouneh. This is a mixture unique to the Levantine region of the Middle East and lends an earthy flavor to any recipe. It centers around cumin (kamouneh), which is enhanced with various dried herbs and berries. 

If you cannot find pre-made kamouneh or kibbeh spice, try the following recipe:

Homemade Kamouneh for Brazilian Kibbeh

2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground marjoram
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp allspice
2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cayenne (or more for additional heat)

Brazilian Kibbeh Recipe


For the shell

2.5 cups bulgur wheat (fine ground)
1 pound lean ground beef
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon kamouneh spice
Pinch of salt

For the Filling

1 pound lean ground beef
½ yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon kamouneh spice
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
Extra virgin olive oil
Vegetable oil for frying


  1. Soak your bulgur in cold water for fifteen minutes, then strain.
  2. Add the bulgur, 1 pound of lean ground beef, the roughly chopped onion, and one tablespoon kamouneh to a food processor*. Pulse until a thick, smooth paste forms.
  3. Place the paste in the refrigerator.
  4. Cook the filling. Heat a skillet on medium heat and add in a drizzle of olive oil. Add in your diced onions and cook until softened and translucent (2-3 minutes). 
  5. Now add in your beef and one tablespoon of kibbeh spice.  Cook until evenly browned.
  6. Just before the meat is done, add in the garlic and cook until it is fragrant and the meat has finished browning. Be careful not to burn the garlic!
  7. Allow your filling to cool for ten minutes or so.
  8. Retrieve your kibbeh dough from the fridge.
  9. Next to the kibbeh bowl, have your filling and a small bowl of water nearby. You will need to continually wet your hands to avoid the dough becoming too sticky.
  10. Wet your hands in the water and scoop about two tablespoons of the shell dough out. Roll the dough into an oval shape. 
  11. Press a hollow in the middle of your dough ball with your hands or the back of a spoon.
  12. Put a small amount of filling in the hollow you have made. Seal the dough back around the meat filling and roll again to make it smooth.
  13. Continue this process until you have used up all your dough and filling.
  14. Freeze the raw kibbeh for thirty minutes.
  15. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium high with enough oil to submerge the kibbeh (a deep fry). If you have a heat thermometer, heat the oil to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  16. Retrieve your frozen kibbeh and fry them in batches until they are golden brown. Let them strain on paper towels and serve immediately with tzatziki, a drizzle of tahini, or greek yogurt thinned with a little lemon juice and olive oil. 

*If you do not have a food processor, you can achieve a similar effect with a blender. Or, if you want to go the traditional route, you can use a large mortar and pestle to beat the bulgur and meat together until they make a fine paste. In Lebanon, this mortar and pestle is known as a jeren. Jeren are made from solid rock and can weigh over 100 pounds!

More Recipes Like This:


Brazilian Pico de Gallo (Vinagrete)

vinagrete Brazilian pico de gallo on checkered napking

While flame-grilled churrasco meats are delicious on their own, Brazilians like to pair them with a variety of sauces and dips. From chimichurri for a perfect flank steak, to a garlicky mayonnaise for veggies and chicken, there are many fresh and delicious options to choose from. One you may not have heard of is vinagrete. Also known as molho campanha, this condiment is similar to Mexican pico de gallo. It makes a refreshing and zesty topping for chicken, fish, and beef dishes. 

Why is Brazilian Salsa Called “Vinagrete”?

In America and many other parts of the world, “vinaigrette” is synonymous with a kind of dressing that incorporates vinegar and oil. This is precisely why Brazilians call their salsa dip “vinagrete.” 

Unlike salsa or pico de gallo, which use lime juice as a binder, Brazilians use white wine vinegar and olive oil. As a rule, Brazilians have a tendency to name their salads based off of the main binding ingredient. For example, “maionese” is a broad category of salads using mayo as the binder. 

Do You Have to Eat Vinagrete With Meat?

Certainly not! In fact, vinagrete is often eaten with crusty french bread or crackers, similar to Italian bruschetta. It is also commonly paired with feijoada, a black bean stew. The stew is traditionally made with a variety of meats, but you can just as easily exclude these in favor of vegan sausages or more vegetables to bulk it out. 

Is Vinagrete Salsa Spicy?

Brazilian pico de gallo uses bell peppers, so it is not spicy at all! If you prefer a little more heat, you can certainly add a teaspoon or two of minced jalapeno or serranos, or a dash of cayenne. Overall, though, the flavors of vinagrete are meant to be mild, zesty, and crisp. It is often thought of as a tomato “coleslaw,” since it is cooling, crunchy, and a little tangy. 

Cilantro vs Parsley for Brazilian Vinagrete

Traditional vinagrete calls for parsley rather than cilantro. Brazilians use parsley in quite a few recipes, since it has a mild yet noticeably herbaceous flavor. But you can certainly substitute the parsley in this recipe for an equal amount of fresh or dried cilantro. 

Brazilian Pico de Gallo Recipe (Vinagrete)


3 large tomatoes
1 large white onion
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
¼ cup whole green olives (optional)
1 tsp garlic powder
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
¼ cup white wine vinegar
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt (or more, to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Dice your onion, tomatoes, and peppers and place in a medium bowl. Add in the parsley.
  2. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together your white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. 
  3. Drizzle your dressing over the vegetables and stir thoroughly to combine.
  4. Pour in a serving dish and top with fresh parsley and a few whole green olives.
  5. Serve at room temperature or chilled. 


Other Delicious Summer Brazilian Recipes to Try:

Where to Find Churrasco Near You

You can now have premium churrasco meats delivered right to your door. Visit Texas de Brazil’s online Butcher Shop to select your hand-curated box or choose from a la carte options. Or, you can visit one of our 50+ locations nationwide and let our professional gaucho chefs do the cooking for you. 

Paleo Friendly Mashed Potatoes: Creamy Garlic Yuca


In recent years, the paleo diet has become increasingly popular. Touted for its numerous health benefits, including weight loss, it incorporates nutritional guidelines inspired by the supposed diets of our paleolithic ancestors. This means that many modern favorites, like mashed potatoes, are off limits. Luckily, there is a delicious mashed potato alternative that is also paleo friendly: creamy mashed yuca.

What is the Paleo Diet?

Also called the Caveman Diet, the Paleolithic diet was promoted in the early 2000s by Dr. Loren Cordain. Cordain published several works suggesting that modern health woes stem from the fact that we are eating foods we are not genetically designed to digest. In other words, our digestive system has not changed since the Stone Age, but the foods we eat have. 

Cordain’s solution is to revert to foods our paleolithic ancestors would have eaten. As hunter gatherers, these populations subsisted largely on meat, fish, nuts, and seeds. Cultivated foods, like grains and starchy vegetables, had not been developed yet. 

The paleo diet, therefore, excludes quite a long list of cultivated and processed foods, including staples like dairy, rice, beans, and processed sugar. Strict followers even omit seasonings like salt and pepper. 

Cordain’s research proposes that humans function best on a diet that is high in protein and healthy fats, and low in carbohydrates. Such a diet, he says, will regulate blood sugar levels and avoid dangerous spikes. 

Why Aren’t Potatoes Paleo?

Some paleo proponents argue that potatoes may have, in fact, been available to our ancestors. However, most followers of the diet avoid them due to their nutritional profile. White potatoes are high in carbohydrates and low in protein. 

Potatoes also have a high glycemic index. The glycemic index assigns a number to a certain food based on your blood sugar levels two hours after consuming it. A high index means your blood glucose levels are relatively high after eating a specific food. The goal of paleo is to avoid these blood sugar spikes, so potatoes are generally off-limits. 

Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are generally considered okay for paleo-followers. While they are also high in carbs, they have a lower glycemic index. This means they have less of an impact on blood glucose levels. 

What Does Yuca Taste Like?

Our paleo-friendly mashed potatoes substitute yuca root, a starchy root that is popular in many dishes in Brazil. It can be used in virtually any recipe that ordinarily calls for potatoes, including delicious aipim frito

The texture of yuca is quite similar to the potato, with a slightly sweeter, nuttier flavor. It can be used in sweet and savory dishes alike.

Dairy Substitutes for Paleo

Strict followers of the paleo diet also avoid dairy products, including animal milk, butter, and cheese. Nut milks, on the other hand, are perfectly fine. For our paleo mashed potatoes, we will be using cashew milk and butter, which compliment the already earthy, nutty flavor of the yuca root. 

Note: Remember to use unsweetened cashew milk and make sure it has not been blended with oat or soy, which are not paleo-friendly. 

How to Prepare Yuca Root

You will prepare your yuca root in much the same way you would a russet potato. Trim away the outer layer, or skin, as well as the pinkish layer under the skin. Then, cut the yuca root into 2 inch cubes for boiling.

Creamy Garlic Yuca Mash


3 lbs yuca root, peeled and cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons cashew butter
1 cup cashew milk
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Place your peeled and cubed yuca root in a large stock pot. Add in enough water to cover the yuca by about half an inch. 
  2. Bring the yuca to a boil and then reduce to medium-high heat. Simmer until the roots are fork tender-about 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. While yuca cooks, warm your cashew milk in the microwave on high for about 1 minute (careful it doesn’t boil over). 
  4. Strain your yuca roots and set aside. In the same stock pot you used for the yuca, melt your cashew butter over medium heat. 
  5. Add in your minced garlic and cook just until fragrant (about 45 seconds).
  6. Remove the pot from the heat. Add your yuca root, salt, pepper, and warmed cashew milk.
  7. Using a hand mixer, whip the mixture until it is creamy and smooth. Alternatively, you could empty the contents of your pot into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix using the whisk attachment. 

What to Eat With Your Mashed Yuca

Garlic mashed yuca pairs beautifully with roast picanha, grilled chicken, or other smoky meat dishes. Visit Texas de Brazil’s online Butcher Shop to get premium cuts of meat delivered right to your door. 


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