Happy belated Thanksgiving! If you celebrated the holiday, I hope you had a wonderful time with family and friends. We spent Thanksgiving weekend in Boston with my best friend and all I cooked was the cranberry sauce. I won’t even pretend to feel guilty – my priority was playing with Adorable Godson II. There were a few food highlights from the trip and an earlier stop in NYC, so stay tuned for those.
I really enjoyed this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, matafan, starting with its name. Matafan means “hunger killer” in the Franco-Provençal dialect and refers to the potato cakes the farmers used to prepare for breakfast before heading out to do the days’ work. The French matafan evolved from a simple potato cake to a galette-like conconction with the addition of flour, cheese and eggs. The “hunger killer” moniker is not limited to these: Argentineans call matahambre a steak/veggies/egg roulade. Puerto Rican matahambre are sweet bakery rolls eaten as a snack between meals. (Word nerd me would love to know if there are any more foods literally known as “hunger killers”). A not-so-literal cousin to the matafan are Ecuadorian llapingachos, another pan-fried mashed potato and cheese cake.
Although making these fluffy potato pancakes takes close to two hours, the potatoes bake in a bed of salt for hour and a half. I really liked this method – the salt draws moisture from the potato and gives it an airier texture. After allowing the potatoes to cool slightly, I peeled and “riced” them using a strainer and my pilón’s pestle. That step was the most cumbersome of all – I had to push the potatoes through the sides of the strainer rather than the bottom. The smooth texture definitely makes up for the hassle; I wish I had tried this technique on my only attempt at gnocchi.
I first served the cakes as a side dish for grilled chicken with the suggested brush of butter. They were a nice change from regular mashed potatoes, and have great potential for customization (both with mix-ins and toppings). I look forward to seeing the variations the rest of the Doristas created.
The two leftover cakes received the breakfast treatment. I love anything that can be schmeared with maple syrup!
French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group where we work our way around Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. I’m happy to be back after a brief break! To see how the rest of the Doristas played with their matafan, click here.