It is springtime, which means a lot of things to different people. I love seeing the green growing on the trees and the early buds of a flower’s first bloom. It is also the time of year when people celebrate Easter and Passover. (FYI: My birthday is also in the spring and there are only four more shopping days left.)
And let’s face it, our grocery stores are really set up for Easter and like a lot of other holidays, Passover, is overlooked. (You could even say it was “passed over” but let’s not go for the obvious pun.)
I thought that even if my exposure to Jewish traditions was limited to a handful of Bar Mitzvah’s in the 1980’s, I should try to do something for my friends who may want a new and different Passover treat. (Okay, not so new and different for people who are actually Jewish but those Gentiles are very excited right now.)
As I started researching matzo ball soup, the recipes I found were very simple. Make a good chicken stock, make some balls and enjoy. I thought I had it all under control until I read my box of matzo meal and it said it wasn’t for Passover!
Apparently, the kind I bought had baking powder in it so it would produce fluffier balls but from what I can understand things that “leaven” food are no-nos during Passover. (There are also debates on whether your balls should float or sink. I haven’t had enough experience to know the difference.)
So at this point, I had my matzo and was stuck I live in a small town, so my matzo options are very slim. Oy Vey! (I googled fun things to say in Yiddish.)
I decided my balls weren’t going to make anyone who is celebrating Passover happy so I might as well toss all caution to the wind and just make it the way that came naturally to me….with bacon. (WWSD? What would a Shikse Do?)
Although my recipe is FAR from what anyone would consider a matzo ball soup reminiscent of his or her mother’s, I think it will be a fun topic of conversation at your next holiday meal. (And yes, you may make fun of my ignorance of this subject matter. I can take it. But with that said, I highly encourage my Jewish readers to send me some recipes for future reference.)
Happy Passover, my dear friends. You are in my thoughts this week.
Not Your Ma’s Ball Soup
½ cup matzo meal
2 Tbsp bacon fat (you can use chicken fat or veg oil)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 Tbsp chicken stock
6 Cups Chicken broth (Strained of fat so it is clear, I found some Kosher Consommé that really did the trick here)
2 Tbsp chopped dill
2 pieces of bacon chopped (I let this be my “salt” component instead of actually seasoning the balls)
In a small bowl, mix matzo, eggs, bacon fat and stock until it all well incorporated.
Add in the chopped bacon pieces.
Roll into balls. (I made smaller balls about 16 but you can make 8 big ones)
Place in refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
Ding, it’s been 20 minutes. Boil a large pot of water and add the balls and cover. Let simmer for 30 minutes. (Some schools of thought cook the balls in the broth but that makes the broth murky so I did it separately.)
As your balls are cooking, heat up your chicken broth but don’t boil it.
When your balls are cooked, place a few (if small) in a bowl and ladle broth over top.
Add a good sprinkle of dill and serve.
I learned a lot of things while writing this post. First, it has to be a challenge for anyone who lives in small town to make a “spontaneous” Passover dish.
Next, my balls floated in the water but sank in the broth. Is there that big of a difference in the density of water and broth? Or did I cook my balls too long? This is an experiment I may have to discuss further at a later date.
Finally, the last thing I learned was that I am very immature and I giggled each and every time I said balls. : )