Monday, April 11, 2011

Matzo Ball 101...

  With Passover just days away, I thought I'd take a break from the routine, and discuss the #1 focus of Passover cuisine... the matzo ball.  These Jewish dumplings highlight any soup.  They are, however,  notoriously difficult to perfect. As desirable tastes and textures vary, it is sometimes difficult to characterize a good matzo ball. There are the feather-light, tender dumplings that rise to the top of the soup... floaters.  There are also dense, flavorful, big deli-like matzo balls that dominate, these are the sinkers.
   I was born on the first night of Passover.  The joke is that Grandma's Matzo Balls put my Mom into labor.  So, not only do I appreciate a smaller, lighter Matzo Ball, but I also appreciate ice cream cake (matzo based birthday cake is not the most enjoyable).
   Here is my Matzo Ball recipe, along with some great tips.

1/2 c     Matzah Meal

2           Eggs - beaten
2 Tbs    Schmaltz (melted chicken fat) or Vegetable Oil
4 Tbs    Seltzer
Pinch     Salt and Pepper

2 Qts    Chicken Broth or Stock

1- Combine beaten Eggs, Schmaltz and Seltzer together.
2- Add the Matzah Meal, Salt and Pepper and mix until smooth.
3- Wrap and refridgerate at least 1 hour, but preferably over night.
4- To cook, bring the broth to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat until the broth is just barely boiling.
5- Grease your palms with Schmaltz. To shape the dumplings, scoop 1 Tbl of dough, and roll in greased hands.
6- Drop the balls gently into the boiling water. They will be cooked enough to eat in about 8 minutes after they float in the chicken broth.
7- Add to your favorite soup and enjoy.

Tips For Perfection:

-Refrigerate the batter overnight.  Although you can chill batter for just an hour, if you leave it overnight, the matzah meal will absorb more moisture, hold together better, and cook more evenly.

-Use Schmaltz... the Yiddish word for "chicken fat."  Fat makes the dumplings tender.  The Chicken also adds far more flavor than using vegetable oil.

-Season the cooking water generously.  Dumplings absorb the liquid they are cooking in. If the liquid is bland, so is the Matzo Ball.

- Grease hands... when shaping dumplings.  Roll the dough back and forth to shape into a ball.

-Prepare ahead... Cook completely, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a dish in a single layer. Cover half way with cold cooking liquid and freeze. When ready to serve, rewarm them in the soup.

Happy Passover and Enjoy!
Chef Heather

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