Sunday, June 22, 2014

Matzah Balls


In the past, I used the matzah ball recipe lovingly handed down to me from my grandmother.

I used a mix. Two eggs, two tablespoons of oil, slice open the envelope of meal.

Don't judge! Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a Fiddler on the Roof.

I did try several times to make matzah balls from scratch, but they always turned out terrible. Which is probably why my Bubbe relied on that trusty box from Manischewitz.


I have two theories on this.
  1. The Streitz-Manischewitz Conspiracy: All the recipes were designed to failed spectacularly. They were just trying to ensure our perpetual dependence on the boxed mix.
  2. Life Was Hard in the Old Country: The recipes are actually trying to make dense golfballs, replicating the hard matzah balls our foremothers made in Eastern Europe.
I will admit to a third possibility: I am just incompetent. 

This year, I wound up with six pounds of matzah meal left after Passover. I used it as breading for chicken, but that tasted like sawdust. So, I've been making a lot of matzah balls golfballs. I tried several recipes, and Claudia Roden's was the worst! Which I wouldn't mention, except she so clearly disdains Ashkenazi cooking. Anyway...


What worked for me was somewhere in the neighborhood of Ina Garten's recipe. Hers called for schmaltz, and if you're going to make it, I've got a tub of the stuff in the back of my fridge and you are welcome to it! That s*** is never getting eaten. But I used canola oil, and made some other changes, and these were even better than the mix. Go know!

Matzah Balls
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup fresh parsley minced (optional)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons matzah meal


Beat the egg whites stiff in a medium-sized bowl. In a larger bowl, whisk together yolks, water, oil, parsley and salt. Stir matzah meal into yolk mixture, then fold in the whites. Dump it all back in the smaller bowl to save space, then refrigerate for at least two hours so that it firms up.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and lay a piece of wax paper on the counter next to it. Scoop the matzah ball batter in tablespoon-sized blobs onto the wax paper. With wet hands, roll them into balls and drop them into the boiling water. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 90 minutes, until they are quite tender.


Leave the matzah balls in the hot water until you are ready to serve them in hot chicken or vegetable soup. Garnish with dill or parsley, if that's how your family does it. (Sometimes I get the stink-eye for putting green stuff in ours.)

If you are making your matzah balls ahead or storing leftovers, save a little of the cooking water and refrigerate them in it. Never reheat matzah balls by warming them in the chicken soup, or you'll end up with cloudy soup and misshapen dumplings.

They say that chicken soup is good for what ails you, and I believe them. Gezuntz!


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