Sunday, December 18, 2011

Matzo Ball Soup

This is really another "favorite things" post because the secret to my matzo ball soup is Manischewitz Matzo Ball Mix. I've tried (twice) to make matzo balls from scratch and I must be doing something wrong because they always turn out to be sinkers, instead of floaters. I guess that's okay if you like your matzo balls dense and chewy, but I prefer light and fluffy, so I keep coming back to the mix. And it makes great matzo balls, so I'm inclined to stick with it. I do think it's crucial to make your broth from scratch though. And I like to cook the matzo balls directly in the broth, instead of water. I love how they soak up all that chickeny goodness.

Yield: 10 servings (approx. 20 matzo balls)

Chicken Stock:
1 whole chicken (about 6 lbs.), cut into 8 pieces
2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
4 carrots, roughly chopped (plus 5 more for serving in soup, if desired)
2 medium onions, unpeeled, trimmed and halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
1 handful of parsley, with or without stems (about 3/4 cup)
1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
zest peeled from 1/2 lemon (not grated)
1 dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
5 quarts cold water

Matzo Balls:
1 box Manischewitz Matzo Ball Mix (use both packets)
4 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Chicken Stock:
1.      Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large, heavy stock pot. Skim froth. Reduce heat and gently simmer, uncovered, skimming froth occasionally, for 3 hours.
2.      Pour broth through a fine-mesh sieve (or cheesecloth) into a large bowl and discard solids. Cool stock completely, uncovered. Once cool, chill (covered), in the refrigerator.
3.      Skim off the fat (once chilled, it rises to the top and is easy to scoop off). This is schmaltz (the Yiddish word for chicken fat).

Matzo Balls:
1.      Follow the instructions on the back of the matzo ball mix box (use both packets, 4 eggs and 1/4 cup oil). But instead of water, bring chicken stock to a boil. Be sure not to salt your chicken stock before you cook your matzo balls (otherwise they’ll soak up a lot of salt and get too salty). Continue to follow the instructions for forming and cooking the matzo balls.

1.      If you like your soup with carrots, peel them and chop into 2-inch pieces. Add to the hot broth and cook until tender (about 8 minutes).
2.      Season broth with salt and pepper to taste (DO NOT season the broth before cooking the matzo balls or they will be too salty).  Ladle soup and matzo balls into bowls; serve hot.
Belle & Evans organic chicken
chicken cut up and in the pot
everything else added
stock cooking (I let it go all day)

I forgot to take photos of straining the stock, but obviously
I did. Once cooled, I put the stock in 1-quart containers
and chilled overnight so the fat would rise to the top.
scooping off the schmaltz (chicken fat)
You can save the schmaltz in the refrigerator or freezer and use for cooking.
You can see this rich, delicious stock is kind of gelatinous when
cold. It will melt and become liquidy again when you heat it up.
matzo ball mix box
cooking instructions on the back
cracking an egg
adding oil

I tried adding schmaltz once instead, but when you're already
cooking the matzo balls in chicken stock, it's overkill.
adding the matzo meal mixture
formed into a ball
I often make mine two or three times
bigger and they still come out great.
boiling chicken stock
matzo balls cooking
cooked matzo ball
matzo ball cross section comforting

Not too bad, but I would like to successfully
make fluffy matzo balls from scratch one day.

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