It took me a while to figure out a title for this recipe. In Brazil we call it “escondidinho”, which means “little hidden one,” if translated literally. Probably because the beef is hidden under the mashed potatoes. I could’ve also named it Sheppard’s Pie because it is kinda similar, but not quite… So I settled on a generic Beef and Mashed Potatoes Casserole name that will, as we say in Brazil, please Greeks and Trojans! :)
The Escondidinho can be made with a huge variety of meats – chicken, fish, jerked beef, shrimp, pork – and with different types of mashed roots, like yucca, sweet potatoes, etc. The original one, I believe, is made with carne seca (similar to jerked beef) and mashed yucca. But today I’m sharing with you a very simple yet delicious one, made with ground beef and mashed potatoes, perfect for the cold weather that is arriving.
If you’ve seen my post for Chicken Fricasée Casserole, you already know that I absolutely love casseroles, not only because they are delicious but also because they are easy and ideal for busy days. You can make it ahead and leave it in your fridge and bake it at the end of the day when you come home from work!
There’s nothing like a hot casserole freshly out of the oven on a chilly night. I must say I’ve been reading lots of posts from my friends on Facebook, complaining about the end of Summer. Nothing against Summer – it is awesome! Barbecues! Picnics! 4th of July! – but I couldn’t be more excited for the Fall. And these past two days I’ve been finally feeling like it is almost here! I had my first warm Pumpkin Spiced Latte! Yeah, I say warm because I cheated and I had an iced one in August because Starbucks brought it earlier this time. So I broke my “no PSL before Fall” rule and didn’t even care about it because it was delicious!
But anyway, this is about casseroles and not about pumpkin spiced lattes. Yet! (I’m on a mission to recreate PSL at home! Yeah yeah!)
As you can see in my pictures, I’ve made two different sizes of this casserole, both in Cast Iron skillets. I love cast iron cookware and I think they look amazing. I wish I had lots of different sizes and at least 8 of the individual ones, but I only have one! :( (My birthday is next week… Hint, hint! lol) So, while the recipe below says that you’re supposed to use a 12-inch cast iron skillet, you can totally use individual ones (probably about 6) or a regular baking dish (a small lasagna dish would work great!).
So what else can I say? Close your eyes and visualize: spoonful of meaty, creamy, cheesy warm casserole on its way to your mouth. Are you happy/excited? That’s it! Nothing more to say. This is pure fabulousness!
For the meat:
- 1.5lbs ground beef
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1.5 Tbsp flour
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
- 1 sprig rosemary, minced
- 1 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg yolk
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the mashed potatoes:
- 1.5lbs Russet Potatoes
- 1 8oz package cream cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Nutmeg to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
To make the mashed potatoes:
- In a large pot, cook the potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Once the potatoes are done, let them cool a bit (just enough so you can handle them) and then peel them.
- While they are still hot, mash them in a bowl and reserve.
- In a sauce pan, heat the heavy cream and the cream cheese, whisking until the cream cheese dissolves.
- Add the heavy cream/cream cheese to the potatoes and mix well until you have a smooth mixture.
- Season with salt and pepper and reserve.
To make the beef:
- In a large skillet, heat the butter and sauté the garlic and onions until translucent.
- Add the tomatoes and the herbs and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add the ground beef and cook until browned (about 10 minutes).
- Add the flour, the parmesan cheese and the crushed tomatoes.
- Cook until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Add the egg yolk and season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the beef to a seasoned 12-inch cast iron skillet.
- Top with mashed potatoes and then with the mozzarella.
- Bake in over for 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and browned.