(Ghost of Passovers Past: Re-posted from a March, 2009 thread, Matzoh Ball Soup
Matzo balls can be dense or light, herbed or plain, richly flavored or simple. These are light, herbed, and richly flavored. The richness (and some of the mouthfeel) comes from the use of schmaltz instead of oil. Unfortunately, fat breaks down the egg whites which takes away some lightness. I try to limit the effect by getting the dumplings into the pot as soon as possible after the egg whites are incorporated, but if you want supreme lightness you’ll eliminate the fat.
Almost all recipes call for some fat – and most American recipes call for oil. My feeling is that if you don’t have schmaltz, forget it and take the lightness.
I’ve included optional baking powder in the recipe. It will lighten the matzo balls. It’s not technically “leavening,” at least not in the sense that it’s possible to find “Kosher for Passover” baking powder. However, if you don’t want it you don’t have to use it.
MATZO BALLS and MATZO BALL SOUP
(About 12 meal, or 18 soup course portions)
4 eggs, separated
2 tsp schmaltz, melted butter, margarine, or vegetable oil (optional)
2 tbs finely minced fresh chives
1 or 2 tbs grated or finely minced onion
1 tbs finely chopped fresh dill
1 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp baking powder (optional)
2 tsp chilled seltzer, club soda, or chicken stock
1 cup matzo meal (4 or 5 matzos, ground to meal in blender)Technique
Make chicken stock in the usual way. When you separate the fat, reserve 2 tsp. Consider it magically converted from fat to schmaltz.
Set a kettle with 1 gallon water on the stove. Bring to the boil. Turn heat down to simmer.
Meanwhile, separate the eggs.
Beat the yolks with the (optional) schmaltz, herbs, salt and pepper until thickened. Chill.
In a separate bowl, beat the whites to soft peaks.
Set a sheet pan, covered with parchment or wax paper on your workspace.
Remove the yolk mixture from the refrigerator, and beat in the seltzer and baking powder.
Fold in the egg whites as gently as possible. Then sprinkle the matzo meal on top of the mix, and fold the meal in -- also as gently as possible. Allow to set up, about 10 minutes. During this period the whites are collapsing from the action of the fat on the bubble walls, as well as time itself. Consider the evanescent nature of existence.
Turn on the cold water tap, and wet your hands thoroughly, leave the tap running.
Use a 1 or 2 tbs (1 oz, 1/8 cup) scoop, to scoop a portion of matzo ball into your palm. Gently form it into a ball. Set the ball on the paper, rinse your hands again, and repeat the process until all of the mixture is used. Somewhere between 14 - 20 knaidlach (Yiddish for “dumplings,” a single dumpling is a knaidl).
With wet hands, put a ball into a slotted spoon or spider, then place it into the simmering water. Repeat until all dumplings are in the water. Cover the pot and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Note: Dumplings which cook covered are lighter than dumplings that cook in an open pot. Check the pot to make sure the water is simmering, and not boiling.
While the dumplings simmer, bring 3 quarts of stock to the boil, then reduce the stock to a simmer. When the dumplings have simmered for 20 minutes in the water, transfer them to the stock and allow to simmer for another 15 minutes.
The dumplings may be refrigerated in just enough stock to cover, and held several days; or may be used immediately. If the knaidlach are held, the stock used to finish cooking them may be strained through a fine sieve and held as well. If the stock is meant to be used immediately (see below), straining is a very nice touch but not absolutely necessary.
To make matzo ball soup: Add a few fresh carrots, celery, etc., to the remaining stock and cook until the vegetables are almost tender. Then, add the matzo balls, the stock in which they were held, and heat just until warm.
Hope you like,
PS. The usual rigamarole. This is an original recipe. You have my permission to share it as long as you cite me, Boar D. Laze, as its creator. I'd consider it a kindness if you would mention my eventually forthcoming book
, COOK FOOD GOOD
: American Cooking and Technique for Beginners and Intermediates