Friday, November 12, 2010

GF "Matzo" Ball Soup


Since I still haven’t recovered from whatever it is that is making me sick, I knew it was time to make Jewish penicillin, or Matzo Ball Soup. I have tried to make matzo balls before with a recipe that claimed that flax meal was the answer, but that turned into a goopy disaster.

Elana to the rescue. I have been eying up her matzo ball recipe for about a year now, but I was so scarred from the flax meal fiasco that I didn’t have the heart to try again. Last week I took a small step and bought almond flour, which is terribly expensive and therefore something I’ve been trying to avoid. Tonight the recipe called to me. It was surprisingly easy, so I was a bit discouraged (surprisingly easy recipes tend to have steps left out and usually look great until the very end, when the food collapses or burns or falls apart). I put it in the fridge and made the soup during the required 2-4 hour waiting period.

The soup part is always easy for me. As long as I get a good-quality broth, I can put pretty much anything in it and let it boil slowly for a while and it turns out fine. This time I opted for the usual—onions, celery, carrots and dark chicken meat. It’s very important to keep to the tried and true when attempting to make something my husband will actually eat. You can see a slightly more detailed description of my chicken-soup making process here. Note: I used broth instead of stock this time, which is why there is a lot more fat in the soup than usual. Next time, back to stock.

Finally 2 hours and one minute had passed, which is still perfectly within the required time frame, and I put the chicken stock in a large pot. The recipe said to “roll” the batter into balls, but they really didn’t roll. They stuck together and formed something sort of like a ball, but more like one of the awkwardly shaped planets in The Little Prince with tiny mountains jutting out of the sides.  The first one I dropped in to the chicken stock fell apart, but after the water started boiling I had more success. Next time I will use a wider pot, since the almond balls tended to expand and fill up more space than I expected.

Some of them fell apart anyway, but a good number of them looked like they were supposed to—light and fluffy. I’ve only had read matzo ball soup once, at Betty Hersh’s house over six years ago. Hers were not as fluffy, but they were very, very good. I have learned that people can be very particular about the consistency of matzo balls. People on forums debate endlessly over the virtues of fluffy vs. dense matzo balls and how their family recipe is the more authentic, and therefore right one to make. Maybe I don’t have an attachment to it tasting a certain way because I didn’t grow up with it. It’s like the arguments over which kind of chili is the right kind. The answer is obvious: my grandmother’s, of course.

I picked out the two nicest-looking “matzo” balls and ladled them into the soup for Eric. I watched as he tasted. “It’s good,” he said, and had another bite.

Note: I salvaged the rest of the matzo ball bits that had fallen off in the broth by reshaping them with my hands, adding pieces until they looked just like the rest. They actually look a little better than the original ones.

And here is Hilarie's more traditional non-almond version:

Matzo Balls

INGREDIENTS FOR MATZO BALLS-MOM’S ADAPTED METHOD
2 Cups of Matzo Meal (Manishevitz of Streits)
1/2 Cup of chicken fat or oil
8 eggs (use 5 eggs whole and 3 eggs separated)
1 cup chicken broth-canned or homemade soup broth1/2 boiling water
1 tsp. onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

Separate 3 of the eggs. Set aside. Blend together 3 egg yolks, 5 whole eggs, the 1 cup chicken broth, and 1/2 cup boiling water. Add the 2 cups of Matzo Meal. Blend well with the egg mixture.Add the onion powder and salt and pepper.
Beat the 3 egg whites until stiff.  Fold them into the above mixture very gently.  Refrigerate.  Roll a scoop of the matzo mixture into balls.  You may have to grease hands with oil lst.Drop into a 5 or 6 qt. pot filled with boiled water or chicken bouillon.  Cover and cook on the stove top a medium to low heat for 20 to 30 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon, and serve with regular chicken soup broth and noodles.

Chicken Soup

INGREDIENTS:
2 chickens, cut up, skin off.  Use stewers or young hens.
2 large or 3 small whole onion, peeled
4 stalks celery, cleaned and cut in 2” pieces
Carrots-about 5-peeled and cut in 2” pieces
Seasonings:  2 Tablespoons of onion powder
1 Tablespoon of regular salt
2 teaspoons of pepper
1 Tablespoon of parsley or use fresh sprigs(opt)
a dash of celery salt if you like it
All seasonings can be adjusted to taste as you cook the soup.

Clean the chicken by removing the skin and fat.  (The fat can be saved if you want to make your own chicken fat or schmaltz.)  Be sure any “red” veins, etc., that may cling to the underside of the breast portion, are removed. The skin on some pieces may not easily come off.  It’s OK to leave these pieces of skin on.

Use a pot that holds at least 8 quarts or more of water. Be sure the bottom of the pot is aluminum, not stainless steel or the chicken will stick to the bottom of the pot.  Place the chicken pieces in the pot and cover with water.  Place the lid on the pot and bring to a gentle boil.  Use a slotted spoon to “skim” off the cloud like foam that comes to the top of the pot.  Add the seasonings, onions that are peeled, the carrots and the celery.  Replace the top and continue to cook on a very low heat for around 3 to 4 hours.  Check periodically to add more seasonings if necessary.  Toward the end of the cooking, if the broth seems weak, you can add a couple of chicken bouillon cubes.  When done, cool, and remove the pieces of chicken, vegetables etc.  Refrigerate.  Remove the fat that has formed on the top before reheating.

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