Thursday, May 1, 2008

Adventures in Cooking - Matzo Ball Soup

Passover/Pesach was recently observed. Being a person without a religion, I like to enjoy the variety of celebrations that religions supply us with. So, this year for Passover I decided to make - Matzo Ball Soup!

I used this recipe from the NY Times

Recipe: Matzo Ball Soup

Time: For broth, 2 hours plus chilling; for matzo balls, 2 hours

1 3-to-4-pound chicken
Kosher salt
4 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 leeks, chopped and thoroughly rinsed
3 cloves garlic, peeled
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
3 sprigs dill
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup matzo meal
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons schmaltz (rendered seasoned chicken fat, sold at butcher shops) at room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup seltzer

1 carrot, peeled, thinly sliced and blanched until soft
2 tablespoons chopped dill.

1. For broth: Rub chicken inside and out with about 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Allow to stand for 15 minutes, then rinse well under cold water. Place in a large stock pot and add cold water to cover by 3 inches. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Skim off impurities that rise during the first 15 minutes of boiling, then add celery, carrots, onion, leeks, garlic, parsley, dill, peppercorns and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked, about 45 more minutes.

2. Carefully remove chicken from pot and take meat from bones, reserving meat for another use. Return bones to pot of broth, and simmer for 1 hour more. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Cool broth, then refrigerate until fat rises to top and solidifies, at least several hours. Skim off and discard fat.

3. For matzo balls: In a large mixing bowl, combine matzo meal, eggs, schmaltz, kosher salt and baking powder. Mix well. Add seltzer and mix again. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

4. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a simmer. With wet hands, roll out 1-ounce balls (about the size of a walnut). Add balls to water and simmer until tender, light and fluffy in the center, 45 to 60 minutes. (To test centers, insert a toothpick, which should slide easily all the way through.) Drain, allow to cool, and transfer to a flat covered container. Refrigerate until needed.

5. To serve, place broth over medium-low heat. Add matzo balls, blanched carrot slices and chopped dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until matzo balls are thoroughly heated, and serve.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

Well, to start off with - have you ever looked for schmaltz in a store in Fairbanks? No luck. I bet the frozen chosen make there own - which is what I did using these instructions.

Here's my bowl of chicken fat, or as I call it "proto-schmaltz".

And here's the chicken in my pan, as I cook it down.

Which, when strained left me with this, my schmaltz.

Whew. Now that we're done with that, let's take a look at what it we did for the soup.

Soup in pot

Well, after we strained the broth and deboned the chicken, that meant it was time for - Chicken Enchiladas!

Ok, back to our real meal! (the enchiladas were yummy)

So, I had the broth chilled, skimmed, strained, and ready to go. Time to make the matzos.

Here's the ingredients, unmixed:

Matzo dough, mixed.

Alrighty. I rolled the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter, and opted to cook them in the broth, knowing that John would likely devour the soup as soon as I was done.

Matzos right after being placed in the soup

Matzos cooked (look how much they've grown! Notice that John has eaten some of the soup before I could get the picture taken!)

All in all, a success. The matzos were not as dense as I would have liked, and a little salty, but still good. Of course, John thinks they were perfect, probably because they were so full of salt!

The real test - would I make it again? You bet. Even with the chicken enchilada interlude, though next time I might make it chicken mole.

1 comment:

Nathan said...

Just an FYI:

Some families have a tradition of hiding a piece of carrot in one matzo ball. Whoever gets the carrot is the winner!

Win what? Totally open to interpretation.

But you're the WINNER