A funny thing happens when your child’s Will Eat list dwindles into the single-digits: You find yourself making things you’ve never attempted before, just because he ate them elsewhere with abandon. Such is the case with matzo balls. During Passover, pretty much every one of Harry’s favorite foods is off-limits. Pasta. Waffles. Bagels. Pasta. Macaroni. Pasta. Cheerios. But I noticed at a recent Shabbat dinner at his school that my son has developed a fondness for matzo balls, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I’ve been watching my mom & dad make them all my life—how hard could it be?
Pretty hard, it turns out. The making itself was smooth, even effortless. You mix up the ingredients the night before, refrigerate, and the next day simmer the balls in salted water. Nothing to it. Except for the small matter of texture. It’s a hotly contested topic among my people: Floaters vs Sinkers. Y’see, I’m a Floater girl. I like my matzo balls fluffy, light enough to need a tether. But even though I followed my mom’s instructions to the letter, my first-ever batch of balls were lead Sinkers. Dense as concrete, sturdy enough to cut with a knife. I was disappointed.
But Harry was thrilled. He ate FIVE. Five matzo balls in one sitting. And four for lunch the next day. It was the most he ate all Passover long. Dude, I’ll take it. And I must admit, in the end I kinda liked the sinkers, too. If I only knew what I’d done to make it happen, I’d make them again the same way.
How about you? Sinkers, or floaters? Any tips on how to make them come out one way or the other?
Traditional Matzo Balls
2 tablespoons fat (my parents use Rokeach Nyafat, but with my mom’s blessing I used oil)
2 eggs, slightly beaten (at room temp)
½ cup matzo meal
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons hot chicken broth, preferably from a pot of freshly-made soup
Note from my mom: “I always make a double recipe. I don’t recommend trying to triple it, as the matzo balls swell a lot while boiling. Best to make it in multiple double batches if for a crowd.”
Mix fat and eggs together. Add matzo meal and salt. When well blended, add hot broth.
Cover and refrigerate overnight. (If making more than a double batch, put each double batch in a separate container.)
About an hour before dinnertime, bring a large, wide pot of salted water to a brisk boil.
While waiting for it to boil, form 8 balls, each a bit bigger than a golf ball, with moistened hands.
Reduce flame and slip the balls into the bubbling water. Make sure water stays at a boil while dropping in each matzo ball.
Cover pot and boil gently for 30 to 40 minutes.*
Have soup nearly at the boil, and use a slotted spoon to gently move each matzo ball from the water to the soup pot. When ready to serve, allow soup to simmer for about five minutes.
*Supposedly, if your balls float during cooking they’re floaters, and if they hang low they’re sinkers. Makes sense, except that mine were floating at the end of cooking and still sank to the bottom of the bowl.