Lead bombs may be a more accurate description of the matzo balls I’ve made in the past. As Amy astutely noted, they all really float. Nonetheless, every year I strive for feather light floaters. Every bubbe has her secret, but sadly, I was never taught. My mother, bless her heart, swore upon whipping up the eggs until they tripled in volume. Others advise using seltzer water. And every year, I follow exacting instructions… some years I’ve achieved success, but mostly lead bombs.
Both the seltzer and whipped eggs strive for the same effect – creating air pockets within the batter that expand when cooked. The expanded air pockets get trapped within the dough as it cooks. More air pockets beget lighter balls. The inherent problem with these recommendations is that after you’ve incorporated all these little air pockets, the recipe tells you to let the batter sit for 30 minutes before forming and cooking the matzo balls. During those 30 minutes all the air bubbles deflate and escape. No air-pockets in the matzo balls = lead bombs.
Finally, finally this year, I synthesized all my mistakes and wisdom to create feather light matzo balls. The secret is to make the batter as wet as possible and still hold together when cooked. The water in the batter turns into steam when cooked, pushing against the dough, expanding it to create air pockets. When the matzo balls “set” (i.e. the proteins coagulate and the starches gel), the air bubbles are trapped inside.
And just to be extra safe, I also whipped my eggs until they tripled in volume.
I combined two recipes from Joan Nathan’s “Jewish Cooking in America” If you don’t have this book, and enjoy Jewish cooking, I highly recommend you purchase it. I’ve made the gefilte fish, kugel and many others to rave reviews.
Stuffed Matzo Balls
2 tablespoons chicken fat, melted
½ cup water or seltzer
1 cup matzo meal
Salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chicken fat
2 tablespoons matzo meal
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1. Whip eggs with an electric mixture at high speed until tripled in volume.
2. To the eggs, add the chicken fat, water and matzo meal. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the stuffing: cook the onions with the chicken fat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are dark brown. Remove from heat and mix in the matzo meal, egg and cinnamon.
4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt.
5. Form the matzo balls: with wet hands scoop out about 2 tablespoons of matzo ball mix. Flatten into a round disc around 2 inches around. Put a teaspoon of stuffing in the middle and form the matzo ball around it. Gently place into the boiling water. Repeat this process until all the matzo balls are made – should yield about 12.
6. Cook matzo balls for 30 minutes. Serve with chicken soup.
This recipe doubles and triples well.
Lori Lynn from TaSte WiTh ThE EyEs is hosting a passover round-up, to which I am submitting this recipe. She's posting the round-up on April 15th, but you should go to her blog sooner and often for great recipes and stories.