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Shrimp and Heart-of-Palm Pie (Empadão de Camarão e Palmito)



This Shrimp and Heart-of-Palm Pie is a traditional Brazilian dish. It is super creamy in the inside, and the dough is so crumbly it melts in your month! In fact this dough recipe has a curious name: “rotten dough” (massa podre). Definitely a weird name for something that tastes so good. I think this pie is comparable to an American pot pie, but the dough is flakier and the filling is thicker. Also, it is a great recipe for large parties since it can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept in the fridge until it is time to bake. This pie will feature on the buffet table at my house this Christmas, and I am excited to present a Brazilian traditional dish to our family! I hope they enjoy as much as I do.

Serves 8 to 10

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 cans (27 ounces) hearts-of-palm
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup scallions, finally chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro, finally chopped

Béchamel Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Dough Ingredients:

  • 3 sticks butter at room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus additional ½ cup for topping
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt



In a large sauce pan or deep-skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 40 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and hearts-of-palm. Reduce heat to medium and cover partially with lid. Simmer about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are soft. Stir in shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp starts to curl, 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Remove from heat and fold in scallions and cilantro. Set aside.

Béchamel Sauce:

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter until foamy. Add flour and whisk vigorously for one minute, forming a roux. Slowly pour milk, constantly whisking. Cook, whisking constantly until Béchamel thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set aside.


Place butter, all-purpose flour, egg yolks, baking powder and salt in bowl and mix well. Do not knead the dough; it is not supposed to be really smooth. Cover and let rest 30 minutes.

Save ½ cup of dough. Use the remaining dough to cover the bottom and sides of a 13x9 inches baking deep dish. Start pressing the dough on the bottom, slowly moving it up and to the sides. Press the dough until really thin, about 1/8-inch thick. Make tiny holes over surface with the help of a fork. If there is any excess dough, save along with saved ½ cup.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Add the ½ cup flour to remaining dough and crumble it.

Place shrimp and hearts-of-palm filling in the pan. Cover with Béchamel sauce, leaving about ¼ -inch room on top. Cover with the dough crumbles and bake 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

For a convection oven, bake at 350 degrees F about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.


Cook’s Notes:

If you are not crazy about shrimp or hearts-of-palm, check out this recipe: Chicken Pot Pie, Brazilian Style (Empadão de Frango). It is a family recipe, passed over to me by my mom. It is delicious! It has the same dough, but different filling.


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