is a time of joyous celebration and somber
remembrance, but mostly it s all about the matzo
balls. Here, fluffy matzo balls.
is a time of joyous celebration and somber remembrance, but
mostly it’s all about the matzo balls.
eight-day Jewish holiday begins at sundown on April 14 with
a combination religious ceremony and feast called a Seder.
The ceremony part of the evening is a description of the
purpose of the holiday, a recitation of the biblical story
of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, where they had been kept
comes the dinner. And with the dinner, in most cases, comes
the matzo balls.
Jews had to leave Egypt in such a rush that the bread did
not have a chance to rise," said Meir Zimand, the
kosher supervisor at the newly formed Kol Rinah synagogue.
remember their ancestors’ hurried flight to freedom, Jews
during Passover traditionally refrain from eating bread that
has risen. In its place, they eat matzo, a cracker-like food
made from flour and water and that has been cooked so
quickly it has not had a chance to rise. To ensure that it
has not, Zimand said matzo must be fully cooked within 18
minutes of the time the flour is mixed with water.
balls were created, he said, when "some really creative
person decided to ground matzo into a sort of flour that
they then mixed into eggs and spices and formed it into a
ball, which they ate."
balls are one of the unofficial joys of the Passover Seder.
There are (almost) as many ways to make them as there are
people who eat them, but all the possibilities boil down to
one essential question: How did your mother or grandmother
large, matzo ball fans are divided into two camps. One
prefers the balls to be light and airy, floating on top of
the chicken soup in which they are served; they are
colloquially known as "floaters." The other group
likes the balls to be chewy but dense, lying gracelessly on
the bottom of the bowl; these matzo balls are known as
is in the floater camp, and so am I. Why would you want to
eat anything that can be described as "leaden"?
theory is that people who prefer sinkers had mothers or
grandmothers who did not know how to make them light and
airy. Or perhaps their mothers and grandmothers had mothers
and grandmothers who did not.
are a couple of tricks to making matzo balls that are light.
Zimand uses one, mixing a little bit of soda water into the
matzo meal, egg and fat. I was dubious that this method
would work — it sounded like a culinary folk tale that
would not make any difference — but I tried it and balls
that resulted were the biggest and fluffiest that I made.
other trick comes from Ina Garten, the television cook who
calls herself the Barefoot Contessa. She separates her eggs,
mixing the yolks in with the other ingredients, and then
beating the whites until they are stiff, as with a soufflé
or meringue. These she folds into the batter before forming
the balls, which retain all the airiness created by the
whipped egg whites.
matzo balls are good enough and have satisfied for
generations, either with or without a little bit of dill in
them. But I wanted to think outside the matzo meal box. I
wanted to try a few modern variations.
first tried a recipe envisioned by Joan Nathan, the maven of
Jewish cooking. She takes a standard matzo ball recipe and
then packs it full of such good things as ginger, nutmeg and
chopped parsley or dill (she also suggests cilantro, but
that would be weird).
a batch, and they were intriguing in a good way. The flavor
of ginger came through most, with an undercurrent of nutmeg;
both tastes added a welcome note of complexity to the
relatively simple chicken soup. (You can find this recipe,
published in 2012, on the New York Times:
up was a matzo ball stuffed with ingredients that would not
be out of place on any Eastern European Jewish table: cooked
chicken that has been mixed with onion, celery, parsley,
garlic, egg, sage and nutmeg. This mixture is placed in the
middle of matzo balls; you fold the ball around it and the
whole thing is gently boiled.
is how you know it is good: The flavor of the filling
seamlessly blends into the balls; the filling tastes as if
it had always been a part of matzo balls. And that sensation
makes sense, when you consider that most of the ingredients
in the filling are also found in the soup.
finally, I made a version that would not be out of place on
any Jewish table in … Cuba?
recipe developer named Cara Lyons, who must be something of
a mad scientist in the kitchen, came up with an idea so
bizarre it had to be great. She decided to stuff matzo balls
with picadillo, a meat dish popular in Spain and Latin
version of picadillo, which she got from Eating Well, is
closest to the type served typically in Cuba. It begins with
ground turkey (the traditional version uses beef) and adds
raisins, chopped green olives, onion, scallions, garlic,
chili powder, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and
picadillo itself is delicious, but wrapping it in a matzo
ball is sheer genius. She first boils it and then — more
genius — bakes it. But before she puts it in the oven, she
lightly dusts it with cinnamon, which brings out all the
flavors of the picadillo. Genius squared.
what most people think of when they think of matzo balls,
and you wouldn’t want to put it in soup. But it’s a
great example of just how delicious a nontraditional take on
a traditional dish can be.
About 12 matzo balls
extra-large eggs, separated
cups good chicken stock, divided
cup rendered chicken fat, melted, or 1/4 cup vegetable oil,
cup minced fresh parsley
teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for egg whites
soup, for serving
Rendered chicken fat, also called "schmaltz," is
available in the frozen kosher foods section of some of the
larger grocery stores.
Whisk together egg yolks, 1/2 cup stock, chicken fat or oil,
parsley and salt. Stir in the matzo meal. Whisk the egg
whites with a pinch of salt until stiff (it is faster to use
a mixer with a whisk attachment). Whisk the whites, a cup at
a time, into the matzo mixture until it is smooth.
Refrigerate at least 15 minutes, or until mixture is stiff.
Form balls the size of golf balls by shaping them with 2
spoons, rolling them with your hands (rinse your hands in
cold water after every couple of balls to prevent sticking)
or scooping them with a small ice cream scoop.
Bring remaining 4 cups stock to a simmer. Drop balls into
stock and simmer 30 minutes or until fully cooked and
puffed, turning once. Remove and serve hot in chicken soup.
ball: 135 calories; 7g fat; 2g saturated fat; 75mg
cholesterol; 6g protein; 12g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 0.5g
fiber; 320mg sodium; 15mg calcium.
adapted from Ina Garten, via Food Network
12 matzo balls
tablespoons vegetable oil
teaspoons coarse salt
cup club soda
tablespoon vegetable oil
cup finely chopped onion
cup finely chopped celery
cup chopped fresh parsley
large clove garlic, minced
cup finely diced cooked chicken, about 3½ ounces
teaspoon ground nutmeg
teaspoon ground pepper
make matzo balls, whisk together the eggs and oil in a
medium bowl until blended. Mix in matzo meal and salt. Add
club soda and blend well. Cover and refrigerate at least 1
hour. Can be prepared 1 day ahead.
make stuffing: Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat.
Add onion and celery and sauté until vegetables soften,
about 3 minutes. Add parsley and garlic and sauté 1 minute.
Transfer vegetable mixture to a food processor. Add chicken,
egg, sage, salt, nutmeg and pepper; grind to a coarse paste.
Transfer stuffing to a small bowl. Stuffing can be prepared
up to 2 hours ahead if covered with plastic wrap and
Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap; lightly coat plastic
wrap with oil or nonstick spray. Using moistened hands, roll
matzo ball mixture into 12 (1 1/2-inch) balls and place on
prepared sheet. Make a deep hole in each ball and place 1
teaspoon filling (or whatever fits) into each hole. Re-form
matzo balls, enclosing stuffing.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high
heat. Drop matzo balls into pot. Cover and cook until matzo
balls are tender and cooked through, about 35 minutes. Using
a slotted spoon, transfer matzo balls to bowl. Can be
prepared 1 day ahead, if covered and refrigerated.
ball: 125 calories; 7g fat; 1.5g saturated fat; 85mg
cholesterol; 6g protein; 10g carbohydrate; 0.5g sugar; 0.5g
fiber; 330mg sodium; 20mg calcium.
from Bon Appetit, via OUkosher.org
STUFFED MATZO BALLS
12 matzo balls
pound lean ground turkey breast
tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
small onion, chopped
tablespoons chopped scallions, divided
clove garlic, minced
teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoon ground cinnamon
tablespoons golden raisins
tablespoons chopped pitted green olives
tablespoon tomato paste
the matzo balls:
tablespoons vegetable oil
tablespoons chicken broth
cup matzo meal
make filling: Spray a nonstick skillet with nonstick spray
(or add 1/2 tablespoon oil) and heat over medium-high heat.
Cook the ground turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon,
until browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium and add the olive oil. Cook onions,
scallions and garlic for about 3 to 4 minutes, until
softened. Add chili powder, oregano, cumin, cinnamon and
cayenne pepper; cook for 1 minute more, until fragrant.
Return turkey to the pan along with the raisins, olives,
tomato paste and water. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil,
then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until
thickened. Season to taste, if needed, with salt and pepper.
Set aside to cool. This filling can be made a day or two in
advance, if kept covered and refrigerated.
make matzo balls: Whisk together the eggs, oil and broth.
Stir in the matzo meal, salt and pepper. Chill in
refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
assemble: Line a plate or baking sheet with a piece of
plastic wrap and spray with nonstick spray (or lightly brush
with oil). Scoop the matzo mixture into 12 equal portions.
Wet your hands and take 1 portion. Flatten it slightly and
press a small indentation into the top. Place 1 teaspoon of
the picadillo into the indentation, then carefully roll the
matzo ball mixture around the filling. Set aside on the
plastic-lined sheet. Repeat with remaining matzo balls,
wetting hands between each one. The stuffed matzo balls may
be covered and refrigerated overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted
water to a boil. Add matzo balls to the boiling water. Cover
pot and cook 20 to 25 minutes. The matzo balls will increase
Spray a baking dish or sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Remove matzo balls from the water with a slotted spoon and
place on the dish or tray. Spray matzo balls with a little
more cooking spray, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 15 to
20 minutes, until lightly browned. These may be made 1 day
ahead of time and reheated before serving.
ball: 115 calories; 5.5g fat; 1g saturated fat; 55mg
cholesterol; 7g protein; 9g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 0.5g
fiber; 365mg sodium; 15mg calcium.
from Cara’s Cravings; picadillo recipe from Eating Well