French Fridays with Dorie: Matafan and Braised Cardamom Curry Lamb

Normally, I’d skip this week’s recipe since potatoes are just not on our meal plan. However, we had several left over from making a stuffed gnocchi roll for the Italy dinner that have to be used.  And I do so love making pancakes. Since switching to a mainly low carb diet in 2003, my electric skillet has been collecting dust in the back of the cabinet. You know the kind: square-ish with feet and the plug in heating element. Mine is brown, likely from the 70s and has long since lost its domed square-with-rounded-corners lid. The only thing I use it for is its ability to hold a steady temperature and evenly cook those golden carbalicious disks.

Matafan are fluffy mashed potato pancakes which get thier airiness from folding whipped egg whites into the batter at the end of the mixing. The ingredients are basic: cooked potatoes, eggs, flour, milk that cook up into some tasty, but plain, pancakes to be used as a side dish or a base for other ingredients piled on top. Its so rare that we eat this sort of side, D was hoping there would be a bit more of the “wow” factor to them. I thought they were good – but I was expecting some potato-y cakes that could be used to 1) offset the saltiness of my duck confit and 2) soak up the juices and balance out the sweet spiciness of the lamb stew. I was pleased with they way the matafan performed as a supporting player in the three meals they accompanied.  Notes:

  • The matafan in the picture are topped with homemade duck confit and brushed with melted duck fat. MMMMM. (Check out  Michael Ruhlman’a recipe that uses olive oil. Its close to my recipe, though I have two quarts of home rendered duck fat in the freezer that I use and have successfully cooked the confit at a higher temp for a shorter time – 300 degrees for three hours.)
  • Even though potatoes are not low carb, I used low carb ingredients in the rest of the dish including a low carb flour mix and cream instead of milk, since I don’t generally keep anything other than almond milk in the house.
  • I did not bake the potatoes on a bed of salt. It looked intriguing, but I asked D to start the baking in the toaster oven while I was on my way home and I forgot about the salt.

This morning  breakfast was a matafan with squash fennel pear soup and then lunch was leftover braised cardamon-curry lamb (a FFwD recipe from November 18 that I missed) with a matafan to soak up the juices. Mom, Dad, if you are reading this you may want to sit down.

I think I’m getting tired of eating onions.

You have to understand that I grew up in a house with a 20 pound bag of onions in the root cellar. As a child, a friend of our family had pins of our favorite foods made by an artist; I think Mom’s was a hot fudge sundae. Mine was an onion. I loved it.  But now I’m suffering from onion fatigue. It may have started with the pissaladiere, but I think the tipping point was a few weeks back when I cut and cooked 12 onions for Agrodolce sauce for beef shortribs and it seems like every recipe since has had at least one entire onion in it. Since I’ve only been cooking the savory dishes from Around My French Table, I think I’m getting more than my fair share of those bulbous alliums.

Which brings me to the lamb. I knew D was not going to be a fan of this dish, despite it including his favorite meat. It is seasoned with curry and cardamom and includes the use of fruit-sweetness (apples and some optional dried fruits) along with the savory (onions and garlic). Cardamon is one of my favorite spices and evokes all sorts of cozy feelings with its scents of Christmas cookies, Indian foods and Chai tea.  What surprised me was although I like the French and Moroccan influenced flavors, especially the pronounced warm spiciness of the cardamom, I’m just quite burnt out on eating dishes with heavy onion flavors.

The matafan made a good foil for the flavors in the stew. I think I owe D a roast lamb leg or a lamb stew braised in red wine to make up for all the fruit flavored dishes of late.  My cooking notes on the lamb:

  • For the dried fruit, I used golden raisins, but instead of figs I substituted a couple dried apricots and prunes.  Figs are not my favorite texture. I did use the cardamom pods but omitted the honey.
  • Instead of potatoes, I added a peeled and cubed celery root as well as a couple of peeled and large cut parsnip pieces. (Gotta use up those leftover root veggies – Send me your sunchoke recipes please!)
  • I used a bone-in lamb stew meat instead of boneless shoulder; from the looks it was likely a mix of leg, shoulder and neck pieces.
  • It cooked in the suggested time, but in hindsight, I wished the apples were added halfway through the cooking so they retained some of their shape and texture. As it was they completely dissolved into the sauce.

French Fridays with Dorie participants are not publishing recipes. Despite my criticisms of some of the dishes, I’m really enjoying Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table (The squash fennel pear soup alone is worth the purchase price). Grab a copy and cook along with us!


About Tasty Mayhem

Love to eat, cook, write. Try to think of witty things to say about the world but my thoughts are consumed by food. Mostly.
This entry was posted in Appetizers, French Fridays with Dorie, Main Dish, Side Dish, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to French Fridays with Dorie: Matafan and Braised Cardamom Curry Lamb

  1. Oh my gosh, they look amazing with the duck on top! I wasn’t a huge fan of these pancakes but I think I could get into them if they were brushed with duck fat! YUM!


  2. You were on a roll for three AMFT recipes! I agree that the pancakes are best as supporting players in a meal. It’s a nice change to enjoy potatoes in a different way. Homemade duck confit? I’m envious! Regarding substitution, I used chicken stock instead of milk for an even more savoury slant. Worked out well.


  3. Kathy says:

    Nice job catching up with the Lamb and your matafan look delicious! I actually enjoyed these alone with just a little sour cream. Loved them!


  4. Yes, a best supporting prize for your matafan! OMG. Just perfect!


  5. What a great topping for your matafan! I would’ve never thought to top with duck.


  6. sanyaliving says:

    I didn’t make the lamb curry, great to read your feedback!
    The matafan look good alongside it though!


  7. MMMM indeed to your matafan with the duck confit and duck fat. That sounds heavenly. I have also not made the lamb dish because my husband is not a fan of entrees with fruit (and the stew seemed to lean a lot of the sweet side). I’m considering making it with chicken thighs, which I know are absolutely not the same thing. Great post! 🙂


  8. Krissy says:

    Great work with these recipes…sounds like a good match.
    But…I have a hard time relating to those who stay away from carbs because I live mostly on carbs. But I do understand because Hubby stays away from carbs, except on the weekends. We are always loaded with baked goods and other carbs at my house. Hubby has lots of will power and it’s good I have grandkids who come to eat carbs with me. Enjoyed your post.


  9. Eileen says:

    Love that you put duck on your matafan. That sounds awesome. Sounds like you made the best of your carb indulgence! Yum. My apples cooked away completely in the lamb stew, too. I also would have preferred if they kept some body. Next time…


  10. Liz says:

    Wow, I can’t imagine anything tastes bad topped with homemade duck confit! You’ve done a great job playing catch up 🙂


  11. I actually have rendered duck fat in my freezer right now. I wish I had thought to use it with this recipe. It definitely would have made things more interesting!


  12. Jill says:

    The matafan sounds yummy! I have a feeling your onion burnout won’t last for long.


  13. Cakelaw says:

    I love the way that you used your matafan – especially with the lamb stew. I used my matafan to soak up the juices from Dorie’s boeuf a la mode – mmm.


  14. Cher says:

    2 quarts of duck fat? Wow. Color me jealous 🙂
    We totally had one of those circa 1970 (perhaps even older, in our case) electric skillets in the house. I think it was used for pancakes & bacon. I can’t remember what else…
    I wish I could get my hands on some sunchokes. Sigh.
    Love the catch up!


  15. How do you have 2 quarts of duck fat? You are pretty fortunate to have that in a pantry! Love the duck and the lamb looks delicious too! Oh, and sunchokes – you went over the top!


  16. Elaine says:

    Hi, Tasty. Your link from the chard-stuffed pork roast isn’t working – it says ‘file not found’, but I have your blog bookmarked and found this as your last past, so for some reason your most recent post is not showing up in my version of Safari anyway.

    The matafan are great as stars or supporting roles. I would love to try some with duck confit – sounds delicious, but complicated. What a great catch up post and I really like your jadeite plate.


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