The Differences Among Matzo Balls

OMG it’s April already! April 1st! No fooling!

Passover is only 18 days away.

It’s not as if I haven’t been thinking about it. I have written three separate articles about it already (you can see one in Jewish Woman Magazine about Passover desserts here: http://www.jwi.org/Page.aspx?pid=2751) and the one at kosher.com about Haroset here: http://blog.kosher.com/2011/03/25/old-world-charosis-gets-a-hip-makeover/. The third article (on quinoa) hasn’t appeared yet and I’ll post it when it comes out next week.

But I haven’t really thought about my own Seder yet.

Except for the turkey. There’s always a turkey.

And there’s always a bunch of other stuff like spinach pie and braised eggplant. Cranberry sauce. A lot of veggies. And even though I like to make new recipes and serve less traditional foods, it wouldn’t be Passover without Matzo Ball Soup.

In our family we have had the same important discussions about these as everyone else: which is better, light fluffy matzo balls or chewy firms ones? Like politics, opinions on this subject tend to be definite and once decided, difficult to change. 

When I was a kid and my grandma and then mother had the Seders, my cousin Essie would bring her famous matzo balls. They were cannonballs, like in a children’s picture book — you could picture one falling out of the plate and bouncing out the window and into the city streets and out into the countryside.

But her husband and kids loved them. Fortunately, my mother also made a batch of spongier ones too.

The difference among matzo balls has to do with how many eggs you use, what kind of fat you mix in, how much you handle the dough, how long you cook them, whether you include spices or chopped fresh herbs and so on and so on. I use goose fat, which I put in in the freezer in December (from the goose I make for Hanukkah) because it gives the matzo balls a smooth, rich texture. And I include chopped fresh parsley or dill because it adds some flavor but also enhances the look. And mostly I use chicken soup in the mix, though occasionally I will use seltzer instead.

Here’s the recipe we use. These make medium, slightly-firm, soup soaked delicious matzo balls.

Matzo Balls

1 cup matzo meal

1 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black or white pepper to taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley or dill, or both, optional

4 whole large or extra large eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 cup melted goose fat, chicken fat, margarine or vegetable oil

1/4 cup chicken soup, water or seltzer

In a bowl. combine the matzo meal, salt, pepper and parsley or dill (or both). In another bowl, beat the eggs and melted fat together. Add the egg mixture to the matzo mixture and blend thoroughly. Stir in the liquid. Cover the ingredients and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. With wet cold hands shape the matzo mixture into balls 1/2-inch to 1-inch balls (you may have to re-wet hands occasionally). Add the matzo balls one by one to the boiling water. Lower the heat so that the water is at a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for at least 50 minutes (do not lift the cover) or until they are tender. Remove the matzo balls from the water. Place into the soup to soak up more flavor. Makes up to 20