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The Mensch Chef Mitchell Davis
by Mitchell Davis

Matzo Matzo Balls

No, that recipe title isn't a typo. Unlike the Basic Matzo Balls on the Manischewitz matzo meal box, these matzo balls are made from whole matzos, with a little matzo meal to hold them together. In a couple of cookbooks from the beginning of the century they are called matzo kleis, or "dumplings." The matzos give the balls a good flavor and firm texture, a little denser than what you might call "floaters.". I like to cook these just before they are served. They should be transferred from the cooking liquid directly into simmering soup. For best results, use salted matzo, whether plain, egg, or egg and onion.

Yield: Makes about 16 matzo balls

Ingredients:

  • 6 matzos, broken in half
  • 6 tablespoons chicken schmaltz, unsalted butter or peanut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion (6 ounces), finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 7 to 8 tablespoons matzo meal

Place the matzos in a wide bowl and cover with cold water. Heat the fat in a large frying pan and sauté the chopped onion until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. Meanwhile, drain the matzo in a sieve. Using your fingertips, press the matzo against the sides of the sieve to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will also break the matzo up into tiny pieces. Add the squeezed matzo to the frying pan. Continue sautéing for about 5 to 7 minutes to heat through. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Let cool about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the eggs along with 6 tablespoons or so of the matzo meal. The mixture should be thick enough to hold its shape, but not so thick that it clumps. Add more matzo meal if necessary. Refrigerate uncovered for about 1 hour.

Bring 5 quarts of water with 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt to a boil. Wet your hands with cold water. Gently shape heaping tablespoonfuls of the matzo mixture into balls and drop into the boiling water. The matzo balls will sink to the bottom of the pot and then rise to the surface while they cook. When the water comes back to a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 25 minutes, until they double in size and are cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, remove from the cooking liquid and place them in the simmering soup.

A Bissel Advice

Can't I make them in advance? Almost. You can make the matzo balls completely and store them in the soup until you are ready to serve them. Or else you can shape the balls up to a day in advance, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate them until you are ready to cook them.

Kosher Status

Fleishig, if made with schmaltz and chicken soup.

Pareve, if made with oil and water.

Milchig, if made with butter.

Pesadich.

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