Your Mother Is Always Right, Except About Schmaltz
Dare I make a recommendation about an ingredient for your matzo balls?
The James Beard award-winning journalist David Sax wrote in a 2012 New York Times Magazine article:
Matzo balls are an emotional and nostalgic minefield, and arguing over their virtues is a pointless blood sport among Jews. If you are foolish enough to complain about a matzo ball that’s served to you, you’re essentially spitting in the face of the cook, their mother, their bubby and several centuries of that family’s matriarchs. When asked, the only appropriate response to a question of matzo ball quality is: “My mother’s are the best in the world.
I love this quote! When it comes to Jewish food and the high holidays, I face this delicate challenge whenever I try to improve or modernize my customers’ old recipes. I do this very carefully.
One thing I like to recommend is duck fat in cooking. It’s perfect for making matzo balls instead of chicken fat, a.k.a. schmaltz. After all, it was the meat and fat of ducks and geese that were truly the main poultry staples of Eastern European Jews.
In my opinion, duck fat is more versatile and adds a nicer flavor than chicken fat. It’s also easier to make and obtain here at Homestead Meats.
Give it a try!
Here’s the recipe for “the best matzo ball on Earth” that Sax provides (I edited a little for ease of use):
5 whole matzos
150 milliliters (A little more than 1/2 cup) of melted duck fat
4 whole eggs
1 teaspoon ground ginger (fresh or dry)
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Crumble matzos well (Yes, you are making your own matzo meal here). Mix in other ingredients slowly, rolling dough into squash-ball size balls. Place in salted boiling water. When ready, add to your soup.
Yield: 20 matzo balls
Discussing this recipe, Sax wrote:
I took my first bite and knew right then that I was eating the greatest matzo ball on earth. The irregularity of the ball’s shape made chewing a mental game — the equivalent of eating a country sourdough after decades of Wonder Bread — and the ginger gave enough kick to cut through the duck schmaltz. How would I break the news to my mother?