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Comfort food, all I want is comfort food!!! I am expecting our second child right now, and all I crave are the meals that my mom used make for our family back on the days I lived in Brazil. Similar to the Shepherd’s Pie, Madalena is a traditional Brazilian recipe and it is usually served with rice and beans on the side. Comforting and creamy, this casserole can be made in advance and baked the next day. It reheats well and it tastes even better the next day, which makes for a very practical weeknight meal year-round. Enjoy!

Serves 6


  • 2 pounds potatoes (Red Gold, Yukon Gold, or Russet), washed and peeled
  • 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoons good quality garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoons good quality onion powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds lean ground chuck
  • 1 tablespoon beef bouillon
  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese


Place potatoes in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook partially covered until soft, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. While potatoes are still hot, transfer to a food processor; add butter, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Process until smooth, about 1 minute (see Cook’s Notes). Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft; 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 40 seconds. Add ground chuck and beef bouillon. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is browned; 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add tomatoes and cover the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened and tomatoes are soft; 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in scallions, basil and flat-leaf parsley.

Place half of mashed potatoes on the bottom of a medium ovenproof deep-dish. Cover with ground beef sauce and top with remaining mashed potatoes. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and bake until top is golden brown and pie is heated through; 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes. Serve with jasmine rice on the side (optional).

Cook’s Notes:

If food processor is unavailable, you can use a blender to make the mashed potatoes. My mom used to make mashed potatoes using a hand mixer, and I still think that her mashed potatoes were the best ones ever. If none of those appliances are available, a potato masher or fork will do the job; just make sure potatoes and milk are hot and butter is at room temperature to ease the process.

Unseasoned, all-natural canned or boxed tomatoes can be used in this recipe.


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