Matzah Balls (Matzah Ball Soup, Part 2)

At our annual Passover seder a few weeks ago, eighteen friends and family members piled into our 1-bedroom apartment. Ryan and I spent the week prior borrowing tables and chairs, picking up extra bottles of wine, and playing Tetris with the contents of our bursting refrigerator. At the end of the evening, we had gone through 17 bottles of wine, 9 pounds of brisket, 20 quarts of matzah ball soup, and more, and saw that the Haggadahs were lovingly stained with wine and juice from the charoset. Success.

The surest sign that Passover is coming is when I leave Trader Joe's with 4 dozen eggs, and seriously wonder if I should have gotten 5 dozen. Between hard-boiled eggs, matzah balls, and 7 days of leavening-free breakfasts, you can never have too many.

There are many deeply-held convictions about the surest path to light, fluffy matzah balls. In my experience, one key to success is to avoid store-bought matzah meal, with its sawdust-like texture and taste. If you start by grinding up matzah crackers in your food processor, you won't get a uniform base as finely-ground, but this texture leads to a dramatically lighter, more tender dumpling that's still toothsome and chewy, but fluffy too.

Matzah Balls

Adapted from Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America and SmittenKitchen.com

6 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tbsp vegetable oil, sunflower oil, or canola oil
6 tbsp vegetable broth
3 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 cups / 260 g / 9 oz matzah meal, from less than 1 box of matzah

Start by grinding your matzah in a large food processor. Break up the crackers, 3-4 at a time, in to the bowl, and grind on high until finely ground. There will still be pieces the size of your pinky nail, and that's fine - even encouraged. Repeat with the remainder of the box.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and broth until blended. Whisk in the salt and pepper until evenly distributed. Add the matzah meal, a cup at a time, and stir until incorporated. You may end up needing slightly more or less than the full 3 cups. You're looking for texture here: it should resemble a stiff batter, not a soupy slurry. It should pull back when you push a spoon through it, but there should be no dry bits. 

Allow the matzah ball batter to chill in the freezer for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Matzah Ball Soup

Bring 3.5-4 quarts of vegetable broth to a boil, covered, over medium-high heat.

Form matzah balls by scooping the matzah ball batter in your hands and rolling it into a loose balls approximately 1 inch in diameter. Drop the balls into the boiling broth one at a time, and repeat until you've finished the bowl of batter. It should make about 16 medium matzah balls. Once they've all been added to the pot, put cover the pot, and cook for 25 minutes. Serve hot, or cooled slightly.

As with all soups, this is even better after a day or so. It lasts for about a week in the fridge, and reheats beautifully. It also freezes well for up to a year.

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