Brazil was found by the Portuguese in 1500, and there they met the Indians, fertile soil and lots of cassava. In a short amount of time the Portuguese absorbed part of the Indian culture, the way of cookery and its main star: the sweet cassava (better known as Yucca by Mexicans and in California).
From the cassava you could make the farinha (roasted yucca flour) – that could be eat along the meat, the beiju, the tapioca (it’s not the pudding as American knows), and even some alcoholic beverages (the cassava passes through a technique developed by the natives to rid it from the poisonous cianidric acid).
The sweet cassava (called macaxeira or aipim by the Brazilians) could be baked or boiled before eaten. This food is a root that comes from beneath the earth, receives the European, and later, African influences. This will give us amazing dishes like pirão, paçoca and great accompaniments like the many versions of farofa something more than vital to any feijoada.
Today the “mandioca” as it´s now called in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro or “macaxeira as said in Northeast region or aipim, the way Brazilians from the South refers to it, is used to make cakes, soups and many other Brazilian and Portuguese recipes as the traditional and famous Tapioca from the state of Pernambuco.
Hidden Jerked Beef
(Escondidinho de Carne)
Serves 6-8 people
2 Pound of Fresh Yucca
½ Pound of “Carne Seca” (Tasajo or Dry Beef)
50ml of milk
2 picked garlic teeth
Peel off the macaxeira or mandioca and put it on the fire in a medium pot with salt and water. Let it cook until it gets soft or a fork can easily penetrate it. Get rid of the water and remove the cassava central stem. Mix the macaxeira or mandioca and the milk on a blender and leave it waiting. In another pot with water, add the dry beef and let it boil. Throw away the water and repeat the process once more so the meat’s salt can go away.
Cut the dry beef in small cubes. In a medium pan add some olive oil and the chopped garlic. Leave it there for about 2 minutes (sauté), add the dry beef and braise for about 2 minutes. Separate the meat and dismiss the oil. In a tray spread the cassava puree, than the dry beef cubes (pressing down with a scoop, so the meat can penetrate the puree).
After that, spread over the parmesan cheese. Finally with the oven at 350° add the tray and leave it there for 25 minutes or until it’s gilded. Remove the tray and with a scoop split it in equal parts.
With creativity you can make several versions of farofa. Here below we will pass the most traditional version used in the northeastern region using eggs.
½ pound of Farinha (cassava flour)
½ bunch of pasley (chopped)
½ small onion (chopped)
50ml of vegetal oil
In a small fridge (or pan) scramble the eggs with butter and leave it. In another medium size pan add the vegetal oil, the chopped pasley and onion. Leave it about 2 minutes or until brown. Add salt and the scramble eggs. Fallowing, add the cassava flour and keep mixing with a wooden spoon for another 2 or 3 minutes until the farofa becomes a little gilded. You can serve it with feijoada or other typical Brazilian food.