Last updated on November 13th, 2023 at 04:24 am
Every year at Christmas our Bermudian father made a cassava pie. It was always something we cherished, even as young children. We knew that this was a special tradition from our Bermudian roots. Learn how to make a cassava pie, the Bermudian way.
When I was a young child, our family moved from Bermuda to Newfoundland, Canada. We have roots in both countries, and our parents made sure that we enjoyed the cuisine from each culture.
Our father was especially proud to share his Bermudian traditions, one of which was his cherished Cassava pie, which is made from the cassava root. He made this dish only twice a year, at Christmas time and Easter.
It’s mainly a Christmas tradition, but for us it meant a special food, for special occasions.
How To Make Cassava Pie
Before we dive into the recipe, let’s take a quick look at cassava pie, and what it actually is.
First Of All What Is Cassava Pie?
Cassava pie is a traditional Bermudian recipe made at Christmas, with roasted and ground cassava root. The cassava is combined with other ingredients to make both a sweet and savory side dish.
Traditionally this pie has been part of Bermuda cuisine since the 1600’s.
One of the main ingredients in cassava pie is the cassava, a starchy root vegetable used in Southern American and Caribbean cuisines.
Cassava, which is also known as farine and yuca, comes from the cassava root.
The cassava is often ground into a flour from which different dishes are made, such as bread, cakes, or pies.
Cassava is considered to be a starchy vegetable high in protein, carbohydrates, and calories. It is also rich in dietary fibre. ( source– US Department of Agriculture)
Our Original Handwritten Cassava Pie Recipe
The original family recipe that was made every year fed many.
Our father had written out his cassava pie recipe for us, in his own handwriting. I love how he did this, and I am amazed by the amount of ingredients on his recipe card.
He always liked to cook in large amounts
We scaled down the recipe to make it a bit easier.
- Cassava Farine: 1.75 lbs of farine (we used about half the 3.5 lb bag)
- Milk: 2 to 3 cups of milk (enough to reconstitute the farine)
- Chicken Stock: (optional) add a bit of chicken stock from your chicken if you wish
- Sugar: 1 cup of sugar
- Butter: 1 cup of melted butter
- Vanilla: 1 Tsp of vanilla
- Nutmeg: 1 Tsp of nutmeg
- Salt: 1/2 Tsp of salt
- Eggs: 5 whole eggs
- Baking Powder: 1 Tbsp of baking powder
- Chicken: 3 chicken breasts cut and cubed
1. Boil the chicken until cooked.
Cube the meat, and save some chicken stock to add to the cassava (optional).
2. Place your farine flour in a mixing bowl.
3. Add milk and soak the farine until reconstituted, and the flour mixture stops swelling.
We added a bit of chicken stock to the mix of cassava as well. We just poured a bit in, and did not measure.
4. Next add the sugar, butter, eggs, and nutmeg.
5. It takes a bit of effort to mix this all together.
The recipe calls for “using your hands” to mix all of the dry ingredients and wet ingredients together. I remember my dad doing it this way. We used a spoon!
6. Now it’s time to place a layer of cassava in your baking dish.
7. Next add the layer of chicken, cubed and bite sized.
8. Now add the rest of the cassava mixture for the top layer.
9. Bake at 375°F for about 2 hours, or until golden brown.
10. Time to serve it up.
Cassava pie can be eaten warm or cold.
Tips And Variations
- The original recipe from my dad called for a meat layer of lean pork, lean beef, and chicken. We used chicken in this cassava pie recipe, as this is what we use most often.
- The meat layer could certainly be skipped, however the traditional nature of the pie would be changed.
- You can substitute the butter for margarine.
- Milk can be whole, 1%, or 2%. We used 1%, although our dad always used whole milk.
What To Serve With Cassava Pie
Cassava pie is served as a side dish with Christmas dinner, including turkey and all the fixings.
Many family members have been known to drizzle their cassava pie with gravy as well, and it tastes delicious this way.
The pie can also be served as a stand alone snack or light meal.
A slice of cold cassava pie is a favorite Boxing Day lunch.
Storing, Freezing, And Reheating
Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
We like to freeze the pie in an airtight container or freezer bag as well.
Thaw out frozen cassava in the fridge.
Reheat in the microwave or oven on low heat.
The cassava pie tends to dry out more in the oven, although generally remains moist when reheated in the microwave.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is Cassava Poisonous?
The skin of the fresh cassava root is poisonous, and cassava should never be eaten raw.
In the raw form, cassava is poisonous.
There are two types of cassava, a bitter type and a sweet type. Both types will need processing to remove the poisonous substance in the roots, before the cassava can be used in cooking.
The poisonous substance in the roots is called hydrocyanic acid.
In order to remove this substance from the farine, it must first be cooked or roasted.
Soaking also helps to remove the hydrocyanic acid from the farine.
Cooking eliminates this substance and makes the cassava safe to consume.
Cassava farine is generally bought in the prepared state, and is ready to use.
The farine we used in our cassava pie this Easter was purchased in an already roasted and grated state, and was ready to use right out of the bag.
Where Do You Find Cassava Farine?
One of the most important ingredients in cassava pie is cassava farine, a finely ground flour made from the cassava root.
Cassava farine is not always easy to find, however you may be able to locate some at Caribbean grocery stores, specialty food stores, online retailers, and in International food sections of larger grocery stores.
As a child, I always remember that ours arrived in the mail.
Here in Nova Scotia we buy the cassava at a specialty food store in Halifax.
What Does Cassava Pie Taste Like?
Cassava pie has a unique flavor, and is an interesting dish.
It is sweet like a dessert, with it’s vanilla and nutmeg flavouring, yet it is also filled with a layer of meat, giving it a savoury flavor as well.
Bermuda cassava pie is served as a side dish, rather than a main meal.
This proved to be true for just about everyone I’ve known who tasted it. They either loved it a lot, or did not like it at all.
If someone refused it, that was always okay, as it meant that we had more on the plate to be eaten later!
Cassava Pie For Christmas- A Bermudian Tradition
For Christmas, this special dish became a beloved tradition for our family. Our father would make cassava pie every Christmas eve, just as the children headed to bed to wait for Santa.
He would stay up all night preparing and baking. This special pie was his gift to us.
The wonderful smell of nutmeg and spice in the air is part of that special memory.
Although we were far from Bermuda, this pie made us feel special, continuing a tradition that was unique to our family roots.
When we shared it with friends, it was always so interesting. No one that we knew had ever tasted cassava, until they had it at our house.
As it turns out, there are a number of different cassava recipes available for cassava pie. Each family follows their own recipe for this dish, although the ingredients are essentially the same.
- 1.75 lbs of farine (we used about half the 3.5 lb bag)
- 2 to 3 cups of milk ( enough to reconstitute the farine)
- add a bit of chicken stock from your chicken if you wish
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 eggs
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- chicken cooked and cubed
- Boil your chicken until cooked.
- Let cool and cube the meat.
- Place your farine in a mixing bowl.
- Add milk and soak the farine until reconstituted.
- Add a small amout of chicken stock if you wish (optional).
- Add sugar, butter, eggs, and nutmeg.
- Stir well.
- Add a layer of the mix to your greased baking dish.
- Add layer of chicken.
- Add top layer of cassava mixture.
- Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 to 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 667Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 25gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 284mgSodium: 945mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 0gSugar: 34gProtein: 22g
This is one of those dishes that goes deeper than the food itself. It’s mixed with the memories of childhood, special occasions, and happy gatherings with family and friends.
Our dad is no longer with us. He has however passed on his tradition to all of his children.
We continue to make this Bermudian dish on special occasions, and it always connects us to our dad and our Bermudian roots.
If you ever get a chance to make cassava pie, I would highly recommend it. Try it out this holiday season!
Many may like it, and some may not. Rooted in our family’s Bermudian tradition, it is sure to make an impression, one way or another!