By Eileen Goltz
As Pesach draws near, thoughts turn towards all things spiritual, religious, and inevitably, the ultimate culinary question of the holiday rears its ugly head (for those who eat gebrochts): will it be floaters or sinkers in the chicken soup this year? For close to 40 years, my friend and short-order-cooking alter ego Dan and I have carried on a running debate as to which is the ultimate, supreme, and, dare I say it, best kind of matzah ball. I contend that my mother’s sinkers are the closest thing to manna that we mere mortals will ever taste. He scoffs and touts his lighter, fluffier, and oh so less filling floaters (he’s wrong). I will leave the ultimate disposition of which variety is the best to my readers (Hillel and Shammai having never rendered an opinion on this topic) and give you the best information I know of to help you in your quest to find the best.
Flavor and texture can be built in several ways. For texture, the most common method is using plenty of stiffly beaten egg whites, which adds fluffiness. You can roll the balls to make them slightly compact. Alternatively, you can use fewer eggs and add baking powder (not my preference but some people swear by it) for an extremely light texture. In my opinion, adding water or seltzer to a recipe doesn’t really contribute anything substantial.
The following recipes are all family and friend tested and run the gamut from classic to really way out there. The truth is there is only one truth when it comes to matzah balls: floater, sinker, baked, boiled, or stuffed—they’re all delicious when shared with family and friends. v
½ cup club soda
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil or chicken fat (schmaltz)
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 tsp. dried parsley
1 cup matzah meal
In a bowl, whisk the eggs until just blended. Add the club soda, vegetable oil or schmaltz, salt, and pepper. Go easy on the salt. Blend in the parsley and matzah meal. Cover and refrigerate this mixture for about 1 hour.
Bring about 5 quarts of water to boil. Rub vegetable oil on hands and form matzah balls with about 2 tablespoons of mixture. Drop in boiling water and simmer covered—and don’t peek (okay, maybe once or twice)—for about 25–35 minutes.
Submitted by Julie Materberg, Pittsburgh PA
Herbed Matzah Balls
4 large eggs, beaten
6 Tbsp. seltzer or club soda
¼ cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup matzah meal
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
1 tsp. ground ginger
In a bowl, combine the six eggs, seltzer, oil, salt, and pepper. Stir in the matzah meal and herbs. Cover and refrigerate the mixture 2 hours. With wet hands, shape matzah balls into 2½-inch balls. Boil 4 quarts of water or broth and add the matzah balls to boiling hot soup or water. Cover and simmer the matzah balls for about 15 minutes (don’t peek). Makes 14–16 matzah balls.
South African–Lithuanian Stuffed Matzah Balls
¼ lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. chicken fat, softened
2 Tbsp. matzah meal, approximately
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 large eggs
2 cups water
10 tsp. chicken fat
1¼ cups matzah meal, approximately
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
3 qt. salted water, rapidly boiling
2 tsp. cinnamon
Sauté the meat in the oil in a skillet until brown. Drain and cool and combine with the egg yolks, chicken fat, matzah meal, salt, and cinnamon. Refrigerate at least one hour. Beat the eggs well in a bowl. Add the 2 cups water and 6 teaspoons of chicken fat and mix well. Add enough matzah meal and salt to make a soft mass. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Divide the matzah meal mixture into 8–10 balls of equal size. Flatten, then place 1 teaspoon of meat filling in the center of each. Enclose the filling, pinch the edges together, and form into balls. Place the matzah balls into the 3 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water and simmer 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Drain the matzah balls and place in a pan greased with chicken fat; cover with remaining 4 teaspoons chicken fat and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 15–20 minutes or until slightly browned. Serve with chicken soup.
From The Jewish Holiday Kitchen by Joan Nathan
Cajun Matzah Balls
With Green Onion
This is made the Alsatian or southern German way with broken-up matzah rather than matzah meal.
1 cup diced green onions (scallions)
1 tsp. minced garlic
½ stick (¼ cup) pareve margarine
8 regular matzos
salt and pepper to taste
chipotle pepper to taste
2 large eggs, separated
½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup matzah meal, toasted
Sauté the green onions and garlic in the margarine. Cool. Soak the 8 matzos in water until they are soft. Drain very well and squeeze out all the water. Place the matzah in the skillet with the sautéed garlic and green onions. Add the salt, pepper, chipotle, and 2 well-beaten egg yolks before the mixture gets too hot. Add the parsley and cook, stirring constantly, until the matzah is dry and it leaves the skillet. Let the mixture cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Fold them into the mixture. Roll the mixture into balls slightly smaller than a walnut. Then roll them in the toasted matzah meal.
Lower the matzah balls gently with a slotted soup spoon into gently simmering salted water and simmer them, covered, for 30–40 minutes. Lift with a slotted spoon into bowls with chicken soup or drain and serve as a dressing with beef or turkey.
About 56 matzah balls or 6–8 per person
From Jewish Cooking In America by Joan Nathan
1 cup matzah meal
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 package egg substitute equal to 4 eggs
¼ cup low-fat chicken broth
1 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley, optional
Place matzah meal in medium bowl with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. In another bowl, combine the egg substitute, broth, and parsley. Pour the egg-substitute mixture over the matzah meal and mix well. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or longer.
Fill large pot with 4–5 quarts of water. Season to taste with salt, then bring to boil. Moisten hands with cold water. Form dough into 10–12 medium-size balls and drop them into the boiling water.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20–30 minutes. Remove carefully with slotted spoon.
Makes 10–12 matzah balls.
Stuffed And Baked
vegetable oil for greasing muffin pans
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 Tbsp. oil
1 cup matzah meal
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
6 Tbsp. chicken soup or water
1 onion, chopped extra-fine
2 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. matzah meal
1 egg yolk
salt and freshly ground pepper
dash of cinnamon
12 cups chicken soup
Grease cups of a 12-cup muffin pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and oil together. Stir in the matzah meal, salt, and parsley. Add the chicken soup or water. Refrigerate 1 hour or more, to absorb the liquid.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Fry onion in oil or chicken fat over medium heat until it is very crisp. Cool slightly and then mix in 2 tablespoons matzah meal and egg yolk. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cinnamon.
Dip palms of your hands in cold water. Form 12 matzah balls from the refrigerated mixture, making them about the diameter of a 50-cent piece, wetting your hands as needed to keep them from sticking. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of filling into the middle of the matzah ball and close well.
Fill a 6-quart pot with a lid with salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and drop in the matzah balls. Cover pot and cook just at a simmer for 30 minutes or until plump. Remove matzah balls with a slotted spoon and put them in the greased muffin tins.
Coat each matzah ball with a little oil and bake in preheated 350° oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. To serve, place one matzah ball in the center of a soup bowl and spoon chicken soup over.
Makes 12 matzah balls or 6 servings.
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 cup unsalted matzah meal
1½ tsp. coarse salt
⅓ cup club soda
1 Tbsp. oil
1 large egg
½ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 large clove garlic, minced
¾ cup finely diced cooked chicken, about 3½ oz.
¼ tsp. sage
¼ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp. ground pepper
8 cups chicken stock, or canned LS broth
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Whisk oil and eggs to blend in medium bowl. Mix in matzah meal and salt. Add club soda and blend well. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.)
Heat oil in 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 processor. Add chicken, egg, sage, salt, nutmeg, and pepper; grind to coarse paste. Transfer stuffing to small bowl. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap; lightly brush plastic wrap with oil. Using moistened hands, roll matzah-ball mixture into twelve 1½ balls and place on prepared sheet.
Make deep hole in balls. Place 1 tablespoon filling into each hole. Re-form matzah balls, enclosing stuffing. Bring large pot of salted water to boil over medium-high heat. Drop matzah balls into pot. Cover and cook until matzah balls are tender and cooked through, about 35 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer matzah balls to bowl. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate.)
Makes 6 servings; this recipe can be doubled or tripled.
Bon Appétit Magazine, March 1993 p. 8
Potato–Leek Matzah Balls
This is a very different kind of matzah ball. Definitely sinkers!
1½ lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
4 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only; from 4 large)
1½ cups chicken broth
2 cups matzah meal
⅓ cup olive oil
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
6 large eggs
1 Tbsp. salt
Steam potatoes until very tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer potatoes to large bowl and mash well. Combine 2 cups leeks and broth in heavy medium saucepan; bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until leeks are tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and boil until mixture is reduced to scant 1¼ cups, about 7 minutes. Transfer to processor and blend until smooth. Add to mashed potatoes. Add matzah meal, oil, and pepper, and blend very well.
Using electric mixer, beat eggs and salt in medium bowl until thick, about 8 minutes. Fold egg mixture into potato mixture in three additions; fold in remaining 2 cups leeks.
Brush 15” × 10” × 2” glass baking dish generously with olive oil. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Using wet hands, form 1 rounded tablespoon potato mixture into ball; place on sheet of moistened foil.
Make about 17 more and drop into water. Cover tightly, reduce heat to medium, and boil until matzah balls are cooked through and tender, about 35 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer matzah balls to prepared dish.
Refill water in pot if necessary; add more salt and return to boil. Repeat with remaining potato mixture. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly, cover with foil and chill. Steam 10 minutes or bake covered at 350° for 25 minutes to rewarm.)
Makes about 36. v
© Eileen Goltz
Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher foods writer. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various foods related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes columns for the CJN in Chicago, kosherscoop.com, and the OU Shabbat Shalom website, www.ou.org. She is also wrote the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim).