Cilantro

Cilantro

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

MATZO BALLS FOR YOUR CHICKEN SOUP



Some cooks buy premixed matzo ball mix. It’s hard to understand why. Matzo ball ingredients may be mixed in five minutes—hardly longer than mixing packaged stuff. My mother made matzo ball soup from time to time when I was a kid, and it counts as one of my favorite soups. Of course, she used chicken pieces and bones to make the base along with carrots, parsnips, celery and seasonings.

Once the chicken soup base was cooked on the gentlest simmer for three or four hours, she drained the soup off the solids, discarded the solids (including chicken pieces that already lost their flavors to the soup), chilled the soup to scoop off much of the congealed chicken fat.

She always served her matzo ball soup with cooked vermicelli, finely diced cooked carrots and green peas, topped with plenty of chopped parsley.

She liked to season her matzo balls with ginger and a little garlic. I updated her recipe a bit so I use a lot more ginger and garlic to suit today’s taste buds.

To make a dozen or so matzo balls preparation time is ten minutes even for less experienced cooks. It’s like putting a pancake batter together. I like to make the balls relatively small though some cooks serve huge ones. I was a guest once at a house where the matzo balls were easily the size of ping-pong balls. These are user-unfriendly; hard to cut into smaller pieces in the soup bowl without splashing soup onto your neighbor’s skirt.

I use a one-ounce spring-loaded scoop (like a tiny ice cream scoop) to make the balls uniform in size and make them quickly. Once I scoop them all out I shape them into perfect spheres by rolling them in the palms. These are ready to be cooked.

I cook the balls in simmering salted water for 10 minutes (some cooks use chicken broth), fish them out of the hot liquid with a slotted dipper, and they are ready to be served. To serve, I put about three in individual bowls along with cooked vermicelli, blanched carrot and peas, and pour hot chicken soup over them.

The balls will be hard if the batter is stiff so make sure the batter is of the consistency of soft cookie dough. Adjust it by adding a little more liquid or matzo meal.

Matzo balls

¾ c matzo meal
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 eggs
¾ tsp baking powder (lightens texture)
2 Tbsp soft butter, chicken fat or oil
1½ tsp ginger
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 Tbsp parsley

Prepared dough with all ingredients, adding water (up to about ¼ cup) if necessary until soft but workable consistency. Shape into walnut-sized balls, simmer in salted water for 10 minutes.

10 to 12 matzo balls.



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