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Roast Figs, Sugar Snow
by Diana Henry
Matefaims—they can be translated as "hunger-killers", from the French "mater la faim"—are thick pancakes from the Savoie region of France, made with potatoes, cornmeal, buckwheat, or root vegetables. They're used in an elegant way in this dish, but you can also make real mountain dishes from them: try matefaims with thick slices of cooked ham and melting cheese, for example; great after a day on the slopes.
Serves 6


    • 12 quails
    • 1/2 cup brandy
    • leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme
    • salt and pepper
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
    • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
    • 3½ oz (100g) good-quality cooked or cured ham, such as Parma ham
    • 10 juniper berries, crushed
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 1½ cups heavy cream
    • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving

For The Matefaims:

    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup buttermilk
    • salt and pepper
    • 2 eggs and 1 extra egg white
    • 9 oz (250g) cooked, mashed pumpkin
    • generous grating fresh nutmeg
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened


1. Rub the quails, inside and out, with the brandy and thyme and season. Leave to marinate, loosely covered, in the fridge, overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Melt the butter in a casserole in which all the quails fit snugly and brown the birds on all sides. Set the birds aside and cook the onion in the same pan until soft and just beginning to turn golden. Cut the ham into fine shreds and add it to the pot with the juniper berries. Pour in the wine and bring to simmering point. Put the quails in the pot, cover, and cook in the oven for 30 minutes, until the juices between the thigh and the body are clear.

3. To make the matefaims, simply mix together all the ingredients except the extra egg white until well combined and smooth. When you are nearly ready to serve the pancakes, beat the egg white until you have soft peaks and fold into the mixture. You can leave the mixture like this, covered, while the birds are cooking.

4. Remove the birds from the pot and keep them, covered, in a low oven while you quickly make the sauce. Just add the cream to the pot and simmer, stirring, until it has thickened slightly. Add the quails back to the pot, cover, and keep warm.

5. Heat a good pat of the butter in a frying pan and add small ladlefuls of batter to make pancakes about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. Cook a couple of pancakes at a time until golden and set on one side, then flip the pancakes over and cook on the other side. Add butter when you need it and be careful not to let it burn.

6. Serve 1 or 2 pancakes per person with 2 quails on top and some sauce spooned over. Scatter the parsley on top.


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