The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is often one full of leftovers and small pleasures. One of my favourite things to do this week is the Globe and Mail’s holiday crossword. Amidst the year-end lists and celebrity tributes, it’s also a good week for reflection on what’s past and what’s to come.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most this year has been participating in French Fridays and I’m looking forward to reading what the new year brings to all the group’s participants. I also have a bit of catching up to do with this month’s recipes. The two dishes I’m writing about today went together very well and might make a lovely New Year’s Eve supper.
Matafan are traditionally a mid-morning snack (or possibly even part of Second Breakfast, if you happen to be a Hobbit). Dorie describes them as “fluffy mashed potato pancakes” and they are exactly that. I used them as the starch at dinner when I served pork roast as the main. They soaked up the pan juices nicely and stood up well to the roast and its stuffing. The hardest part of making these for me was pushing the baked potato through a sieve, as we couldn’t locate my mother’s ricer. I only used one potato; my father had grown a variety that got quite big and I found one that was easily 1 1/2 pounds. Once I’d finished with the potato, the rest was easy. The batter takes four eggs in total, but two are separated and the whites are beaten stiffly and added after the whole eggs and yolk are incorporated. Riced potatoes and whipped egg whites bring the fluffiness to the batter.
As I cooked the matafan on the stove top, the pork roast was in the oven. The recipe calls for pork loin roast, but I used a shoulder and it seemed to work just as well. My knife skills have improved quite a bit since working through the recipes in Around My French Table, as anyone who participated in our spatchcocking adventure would agree. The meat is sliced almost through along its length and a stuffing of sauteed chard, garlic and onion, raisins (dried blueberries in my case), and red pepper flakes is placed inside, as though between the pages of a book. The whole thing is tied with kitchen twine and the pork is rubbed with olive oil, salt, crushed peppercorns, and crushed coriander seeds. It doesn’t take long to cook in a moderately hot oven – the resting time is nearly as long as the roasting time. It’s a tender roast that picks up the flavours of both the stuffing and the coating. It also looks lovely on the table. Unfortunately, my photo doesn’t do it justice. Sometimes, the hardest part of this group is taking decent photos before taking a dish to table. Sometimes, I just don’t want to keep dinner waiting. C’est la vie.
I hope that your reflections on the year that’s soon to end and the one that’s just around the corner are satisfying and full of hope in turn.