Recipe by Natalia Garzon, owner, Leave It… To Me! // photos by Jen Brooker Photography
The history of the matzo ball comes from the Old Testament of the Bible. In the book of Exodus, when Moses led the Jews from Egypt the Jewish people had no time to pack in their escape. All they had to eat was an unleavened mixture of flour and water. Out of respect, contemporary Jewish people forgo all leavened forms of bread during Passover. The only bread allowed is matzo, the same unleavened flour and water bread eaten by the fleeing Jews of the Old Testament.
The texture of the matzo ball defines the flavor profile. Dense matzo balls, known as sinkers, taste more like matzo meal and do not include a leavening agent. Light matzo balls, known as floaters, use a leavening agent such as baking powder. Floaters have more air pockets that allow for the absorption of the liquid in which they are poached.
There are many different recipes for matzo balls and the use of a leavening agent is up to the chef. The below recipe provides a “middle ground” final product, in which the matzo balls retain the matzo flavor while absorbing enough liquid to be infused with moisture, herbes de Provence and the broth flavor.
Matzo Ball Rules
Rule 1: Chemical Leavening
Baking powder will help create air pockets, which helps with the absorption of broth.
Rule 2: Hydration
The matzo ball mixture needs to rest in the refrigerator before cooking to allow the absorption of liquid; otherwise it will be impossible to form or shape.
Rule 3: Poaching Method
Matzo balls need to be cooked in chicken broth. Pay attention to the temperature of the liquid. For top quality, take the time to make good chicken stock. Matzo balls cooked in water will have a bland taste.
Rule 4: The Broth
Matzo balls are served in chicken broth, which should be clear and not cloudy.
1⁄4 cup matzo meal
1 T schmaltz or vegetable oil
1 T liquid chicken broth (or water)
Dash baking powder
1 t. Herbes de Provence
Salt and white pepper to taste
2 quarts poaching liquid (chicken broth or water)
1 quart clear chicken broth
Brunoise carrots for garnish
Stockpot with lid
Step 1. Arrange mise en place.
Step 2. In a bowl, mix together all ingredients. Refrigerate mixture for at least 30 minutes.
Step 3. In a medium pot, bring chicken broth to a boil.
Step 4. With wet hands, form matzo mixture into golf ball-sized balls.
Step 5. Gently place matzo balls into boiling chicken broth.
Step 6. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low and poach matzo balls for 20 minutes. Do not uncover the pot while cooking. The poaching liquid should maintain a temperature of 160°F and 180°F.
Step 7. Remove matzo balls from poaching liquid and serve in warm chicken broth garnished with brunoise carrots.