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MAFROUM | Meat and Potato "Sandwiches"  Libyan (Tripolitan)

No need to hollow out or roll anything here. Just slit potato slices crosswise so they resemble a crocodile’s mouth and stuff with a meat patty. Mafroum is traditionally served over couscous, but you can serve it over white rice or on their own (in which case, lots of bread to mop up the sauce is imperative). This recipe is from Rafi Guetta, chef-owner of Guetta restaurant in Jaffa, one of the best places in Israel to savor Libyan (Tripolitan) cuisine.

Ingredients (makes 10-12 mafroums; serves 4-6)
  • For the filling 

  • 1 pound (½ kg) coarsely ground beef 

  • ½ pound (250 g) coarsely ground chicken breast 

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped 

  • ¹⁄³ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped 

  • For the mafroum 

  • 4 russet potatoes, peeled 

  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour 

  • 2 eggs 

  • 1 teaspoon salt 

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

  • ½ cup good-quality (preferably homemade or panko) bread crumbs 

  • Vegetable oil for frying 

  • For the sauce 

  • Olive oil 

  • Leftover potato scraps 

  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced 

  • 1 carrot, sliced into ½-inch (¾-cm) coins 

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika 

  • ½ teaspoon sugar 

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste 

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

  • ½ to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)


photo: Daniel Laila, Styling: Amit Farber

Prepare the filling Combine the beef, chicken, onion, and parsley in a bowl and mix well. Form 10 to 12 round flat patties 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter. 


Prepare the mafroum Slice the potatoes lengthwise into 1-inch (2½-cm) disks. Reserve the scraps for later use. Slit each disk, but not all the way through, so the sides can be hinged to create a V shape to be filled (see the photograph). Insert the meat patty into the opening. 


Prepare three plates: one with the flour, one with the beaten eggs sea¬soned with the salt and pepper, and one with the bread crumbs. Dip the potato sandwiches first in the flour, then in the eggs, and finally in the bread crumbs. 


Heat the vegetable oil in a wide shallow saucepan and fry the potato sandwiches for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate. 


Prepare the sauce Heat the olive oil in a large wide pan over medium heat. Add the leftover potato scraps and sauté until golden. Add the onion, carrot, paprika, sugar, and tomato paste and sauté until the onion softens and becomes translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. 


Arrange the potato sandwiches in an even layer over the sauce and pour water over just to cover. Season with salt, pepper, and cinnamon (if using) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender. 


Variation: to make mafroum kosher for Passover, dip the sandwiches in cornstarch instead of flour and then in the eggs. Skip the bread crumbs

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