I have many fond memories of my grandmother… but her cooking is not one of them. I don’t want to come across as rude, or snooty, but she and I don’t often see eye to eye on culinary issues. There may be a few other issues that we disagree on, but since this is a food blog, let’s stick with that for now!
Every year, as Spring rolled around, along with my birthday, I always looked forward to her matzo ball soup. It was likely the one item she made that I could honestly say I looked forward to.
But as she got older, and less capable of making enough soup and matzo balls for the 30 or 40 some-odd of us that would gather each year for our Passover celebration, she passed her matzo ball recipe along to one of my brothers and me.
Of course, she didn’t use any measurements, so it wasn’t so much a recipe as a little technique plus a few suggestions, but still, it was enough to get started with.
I must say that I am a bit taken aback at the wide variety of matzo ball recipes that are available online, I had no idea that people had such strong opinions on how their balls should appear, taste, whether or not they should float and what you should add to your recipe to help with the floaters, or sinkers, whichever you prefer.
I guess everyone grows up loving the balls that they see the most, which for most people is on Passover and probably made by their parents or grandparents. For me, that meant relatively small dense matzo balls, with some onion, celery and parsley thrown in there.
As far as floating goes, I never even realized that was a category of mazto ball to consider, but when we add our matzo balls to the chicken stock, which should already be made, they sink. And then, after cooking for about 15 minutes or so in boiling stock, they float. So I’m not sure how you want to categorize that, but I’m certainly not looking at adding baking power or soda to help with their floating skills.
When considering what to include in this recipe, matzo is obviously the first ingredient that comes to mind. I could probably make a lot of people happy here, and say that I went with gluten free matzo, but it never really crossed my mind. I simply used some regular, old school lightly salted matzo.
Remember, the whole purpose of my website is to record recipes that my children like so that maybe one day they can cook for themselves. Also, it’s to examine what we eat, not to the point of paralysis, but to help ourselves try to avoid some of modern society’s dietary ills and diseases. I have a hard time seeing how matzo balls a couple of times a year really fits into our rising rates of cancer, obesity and diabetes.
Along with the matzo, my grandmother started a few vegetables out in a pan with a few tablespoons of chicken fat, or schmaltz, as she likes to call it. I don’t usually keep a ton of schmaltz on hand, and have found that butter works just fine as well.
Once you have everything diced and measured out, the whole process actually goes pretty quickly. The hardest part is simply the stirring of the mixture to help the matzo dry back out from having soaked it in water. But just remember as you stir that every few minutes you get to take a break to add in another ingredient.
Once you have cooked everything through, the matzo mixture should be a nice sticky consistency that will roll up nicely into balls. But not yet, that would be too hot! Take the mixture off the stove and let cool for a bit, until you decide that you won’t burn your hands by handling the matzo, and then start rolling.
Matzo Ball Recipe - From My Grandmother
- 2 tablespoons chicken fat or butter
- 1 box matzos
- 1 large shallot diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup matzo meal
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 bunch parsley chopped
- empty your box of matzo into a large mixing bowl, break into pieces and then fill the bowl with enough water to cover the matzo
- prep all of your ingredients while the matzo is soaking, and then pre-heat your pan on the stove top over medium heat
- add your chicken fat or butter to the pan
- add the diced shallots and celery and cook until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes
- scoop out the matzo and squeeze as much water off as possible and add it to the pan, and stir to combine with the celery and shallots
- add the two eggs, and stir again to combine, keep stirring to help the matzo dry out
- add the matzo meal plus the salt, pepper and garlic powder, and stir to combine
- add the chopped parsley and stir to combine
- when the extra water from the matzo is cooked off but the mixture is still pretty sticky, turn the heat off and let cool for a few minutes until you can work with the matzo by hand
- using your hands, scoop out a bit of mixture and roll between your palms until the matzo ball is well formed and cohesive, place into a container for later use
- repeat with all of the matzo mixture until it is all gone, for one box of matzo I usually get about 35-40 matzo balls, but that will obviously depend upon how big your balls are
- once all of your matzo balls have been rolled and placed in your container, with parchment paper in between layers, place into the refrigerator until needed.
- to prepare the soup for dinner, bring your already-prepared chicken soup to a boil and then add the matzo balls
- let the matzo balls cook in the soup for 15-20 minutes, until they are all floating on the surface and then serve