All right, so it’s that time of the month when I come out of hiding to contribute to the kosher food blogging world, in this month’s version of the Kosher Connection- Link up. If you’re new to the program, every month there’s a theme, and a bunch of reputable food bloggers, and myself, get together to give their version of that theme. This month’s theme is “Get well Gil.” For the uninitiated, Gil Marks is one of the foremost experts on kosher food, and it’s long history. In fact he even wrote a freaking encyclopedia on it! I happen to love the book, and it only weighs in at a whopping 650ish pages, so you know, it’s typical light reading fare. But in all honesty, the book is incredible, and it literally covers everything imaginable related to kosher food, from Adafina to Zwetschgenkuchen (“a cross between a cake and tart made with Italian prune plums”), I highly recommend taking a gander.
Anyway, I was trying to think what would be an appropriate recipe, and it dawned on me – Matzah Balls! Think about it – it’s the ultimate healing food, plus, it’s one of those foods that epitomizes Jewish cooking (sorry S’fardim, I guess you don’t count!…I joke, next time I’ll make Jachnun, or something scary sounding like that). Onward!
Quoting Gil in the Encyclopedia:
“..By the 12th century, the concept of dumplings, originally made from bread, had spread from Italy to Bohemia, where it was called knodel (knot). From there, the name traveled with variations in pronunciation, to southern Germany, Austria, and France. The term also traveled eastward to the Slavic regions. The most widespread Ashkenazic name for dumpling became knaidel/kneydl, which is better know by the plural knaidlach/kneydlakh”
As the medieval period waned, flour began to replace bread as the base…During the 8 days of Passover…Germans discovered that they could substitute matza for the bread or flour, creating the most widely known type..matzah knaidel…
It was only in the early 20th century, after Manischewitz introduced packaged matza meal, that this dumpling achieved mass popularization and it’s current status as an iconic Jewish food.
Matza balls consist of only a few ingredients – matza meal, eggs, a little far, a liquid, salt, and pepper. Using matza meal in place of flour, and adding eggs resulsts in a lighter dumpling. Adding fat…produces a more flavorful dumplings…
Now, ever since our post on chicken stock, I’m sure that like me, you also have some chicken shmaltz lying around in the fridge (or maybe some duck fat??), and seriously, what better way than to incorporate it into some matzah meal, with some of that stock…it’s like the circle of life, man. First you make chicken, then with the leftover bones and scraps, you make stock. With that stock you get the base of your chicken soup, and you also have shmaltz to make knaydlach….it’s so deep man.
I actually used Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for this (I like that everything is by weight…because, you know… a scale…I’m like a broken record over here…), and I took some matzah, and added it to a food processor to pulverize.
To that I added, the remaining dry ingredients: baking powder, some fresh rosemary (which I had lying around, but you can use whatever you see fit), salt, and black pepper.
I melted some fresh chicken fat (you can use vegetable oil if you’re a lightweight), added it to 4 eggs and 1/4 cup of fresh chicken stock, and mixed it all together.
Then I mixed together, the dry and wet ingredients, and after thoroughly combined, I let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, to fully hydrate.
Before you’re ready to go, bring a pot of salted water to a simmer.
Then I rolled it up into golf-ish sized balls (remember, they’re going to grow, so smaller than you expect….I make this mistake, every time mind you).
Dump the kneydels into the salted water, and cook until they’re nice and fluffy, about 20-30 minutes.
And there you have it…there might be some of you out there (ahem – Phoenix Fresser..) why not just make this out of a box mix?? Well I’m going to preempt that by saying, Hashem gets angry when you use a box mix (especially duncan hines…but that’s another post).
Anyway, we here at the Kosher Gastronome Headquarters would like to wish a full and speedy recovery to Gil (Yitzchak Simcha ben Baila).
As always with the Kosher Link Ups, click on the funny frog guy below to see what the other peoples are doing.
- 4 squares of matzo (ie – 1 cup/140 grams matzo meal), well pulverized in a food processor
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup/60 grams schmaltz, melted (or vegetable oil)
- 1/4 cup/60 milliliters chicken stock or water
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon chopped rosemary (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until they are all thoroughly mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- With damp hands, form the matzo mixture into 8 golf ball-sized orbs (they will double in size).
- Bring a pot of salted water to a simmer
- Drop in balls, and cook for 20-30 minutes.