12
Mar
2013
Jayne Cohen's picture

Three Classic Matzoh Balls, One Basic Recipe

Jayne Cohen

photo taken by Art Siegel, on October 13, 2007, CC licensing

A larger amount of fat or oil will give you richer-tasting, creamier matzoh balls  that are slightly denser and heavier; using less will yield dumplings that are lighter and  more delicate. So choose the amount of fat according to your preference.        

            For airier matzoh balls, use 3-5 tablespoons schmaltz, butter, or oil and EITHER 5-6 eggs, separated, OR 4 eggs (unseparated) plus 5 tablespoons very cold sparkling water added to the batter just before cooking, according to the recipe directions below.

            For soft, flavorful matzoh balls that are light, but not airy, use 1/3 cup of fat, 4 eggs, and ½ cup sparkling water in the regular batter.

 

Serves about 8

 

4-6 large eggs, at room temperature (see recipe intro Note above)

3-6 tablespoons (see recipe intro above) poultry schmaltz, at room temperature, or an  equal amount of melted butter, if preparing a meatless soup; or, less desirably, an equal quantity of oil

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

  • up to 4 tablespoons finely minced fresh herbs (such as dill, chives, parsley, or a     combination) and/or 2 pinches of ground ginger (optional)
  • 1 cup matzoh meal (you can substitute up to 1/4 cup finely ground skinned almonds for   an equal quantity of the matzoh meal)
  • 5 tablespoons or ½ cup sparkling water (optional) (See recipe intro above)
  • broth for cooking the matzoh balls (you can use low-sodium purchased; best if “doctored up” a bit), or less desirably, salted water

            Read the note above and choose the method and exact ingredients for the kind of matzoh ball you prefer.

            For airier matzoh balls, made with separated eggs: In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. In another bowl, beat the yolks with the schmaltz, butter, or oil, salt (figure about 1 ½ teaspoons of coarse kosher salt, or to taste —less if you are using seasoned poultry fat or a finer grind of salt; you may also need to adjust the amount according to the saltiness of your broth), and a little pepper, until thick and creamy. Whisk in optional seasonings, if using. Fold the whites into the yolk mixture until just combined. Slowly and gently fold in the matzoh meal. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for 1 hour.

            For airier matzoh balls made using sparkling water: In a large bowl, beat the eggs and schmaltz, butter, or oil until well blended and thick. Stir in the optional seasonings, if using. Mix together the matzoh meal, salt (figure about 1 ½ teaspoons of coarse kosher salt—less if you are using seasoned poultry fat or a finer grind of salt; you may also need to adjust the amount according to the saltiness of your broth), and pepper to taste, and stir into the egg mixture. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for at least 4 hours; overnight is even better--so the matzoh meal can fully absorb the liquids and seasoning.

            For soft, flavorful matzoh balls that are light, but not airy, follow the instructions above for airier matzoh balls made using sparkling water, but stir in ½ cup sparkling water after you’ve combined the matzoh meal and egg mixture. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for at least 4 hours; overnight is even better--so the matzoh meal can fully absorb the liquids and seasoning.

            When you are ready to cook the matzoh balls, fill a large, very wide pot with a lid with the broth or salted water. Bring to a boil.

            If preparing airier matzoh balls made using sparkling water, stir 5 tablespoons of sparkling water into the batter now.

            Very gently shape the batter into walnut- or olive-size balls using two teaspoons, a mini-scoop, or your hands, but avoid handling them too much. Don’t pack them firmly; a light touch is essential. Otherwise, you’ll wind up with pretty, but dense dumplings.

            Place the balls on a platter. When the broth or water comes to a rapid boil, reduce the heat a bit. Carefully slide the balls in one at a time. Or you can form the balls using two spoons and drop them right into the water. The matzoh balls need plenty of space to move around and expand, so don’t crowd the pot--if necessary, prepare the matzoh balls in two batches or use two pots. When the liquid returns to a gentle boil, stir the matzoh balls lightly with a wooden spoon, then cover the pot tightly and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, without removing the lid. (They will cook by direct heat as well as by steam, which makes them swell up--lifting the lid will reduce some of that steam.) Test for doneness: remove a matzoh ball and cut it in half. It should be tender, fluffy, and completely cooked through. If it isn’t, continue cooking for a few more minutes.

            Remove the matzoh balls gently with a skimmer or a large slotted spoon--they are too fragile to pour into a colander. If you’ve cooked the matzoh balls in water, transfer them to the soup and let them sit there for at least one hour. (Don’t eliminate this vital step: matzoh balls cooked in water need to absorb some of the soup’s flavor).

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