I am a strong proponent of Heinz Ketchup, and ONLY Heinz ketchup. If it's not Heinz, I'm not interested in dipping a fry into it, and if it is labeled "catsup", I am likely to donate the bottle to some worthy cause, or simply set it back down on the grocery shelf. Cats do sup, and they also dine, but none of that applies to my hamburger or French fries (even occasionally a steak, but don't mention that to Robert).
There are dozens of ways to make a decent matzo ball (or knaidlach, it's proper name). Everybody (at least every Jewish everybody who fancies themselves a true Jewish cook) has a trick or kitchen hack that renders their knaidlach better than anyone else's, in somebody's opinion. For me, the best knaidlach were made by the chef at the kosher catering hall where my father-in-law worked as a maitre d' for many years. Dad's Richie (not to be confused with Mom's Richie, who was one of the owners and cook at the kosher catering call where my mother-in-law worked as a maître d' for many years) had graciously shared his recipe. His has always been my go-to knaidlach, and I've had no complaints. They are a little fluffy and a little toothsome and do a fine job of soaking up the flavor from a good chicken soup. So of course, after 35 years, I decided to change it. Kick it up a notch. Put my own spin on it.
Now, remove all of the chicken from the bones and cartilage. I have excellent plans for that chicken, so wrap carefully and refrigerate for further instructions.
Pour the chicken soup through two paper towels set into a metal strainer. Now taste it, add a little salt if needed, and permit yourself a smile for having prepared the chicken soup that tastes like Mom's - my Mom (grandmother) who frankly made the best chicken soup in the world.
For the total Brooklyn Jewish experience, you have to have the soup with these matzo balls.
These are The Best Matzo Balls in the World:
4 eggs, separated
1 package Streits matzo ball mix (both envelopes)
1/2 cup melted Crisco, cooled to room temperature
1/4 cup lemon-lime carbonated water
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. If they are resistant, add a pinch or two of cream of tartar. In a separate bowl, bear the egg yolks. Mix in the melted, cooled Crisco and the carbonated water. Stir in the matzo meal and the parsley. Gently fold in the beaten egg white. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until the mixture can be handled.
Fill a large kettle about half full (4-5 quarts) with water, and set to boil. Once the water is boiling, throw in four (4) Knorr chicken bouillon cubes. The matzo balls will be cooked in this boiling broth.
Form the matzo balls by scooping with the medium-sized scoop. Wet your hands with cold water, and roll the matzo balls; set aside until all are formed. Gently ease them, one at a time, into the boiling broth and cook, uncovered, for about 25 minutes. Lower the heat slightly if they are boiling too rapidly. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve with the World's Best Chicken Soup.
How Did Martha Stewart Get Into This Blog Post? Well, I told you I was playing catchup, and that encompasses these rather nifty meatballs. The recipe is from Martha Stewart, who I really like (except for her endless spring cleaning campaign) and made good use of a pound of ground lamb I had thrown casually into the depths of my lower freezer, which happens to be large enough to hide a VW beetle).
Now about meatballs - my grandmother was pretty conservative when it came to these, but I did learn my absolute best meatball kitchen trick from her. Instead of breadcrumbs, or white bread soaked in milk, use matzo meal in your meatball or meatloaf mixture. There is a gorgeous symmetry there, that the main ingredient for knaidlach is also the secret ingredient in good meatballs.
Northern Indian Lamb Meatballs
2 small garlic cloves
1 piece (1 inch) peeled fresh ginger, sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 can (8 ounces) plain tomato sauce
1 dried bay leaf
12 ounces ground lamb
1 cup fine fresh breadcrumbs
6 prunes, quartered
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- Process garlic, ginger, and 1 1/2 teaspoons water in a food processor until a chunky paste forms; set aside.
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion; cook, stirring, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Set aside one quarter of onion in a large bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon garlic paste, 1/2 cup water, the turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, and 2 tablespoons coriander to onion in skillet. Cook 3 minutes, stirring. Add tomato sauce, 1 1/2 cups water, and the bay leaf. Season with salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer.
- Mix reserved onion, lamb, breadcrumbs, cilantro, egg, 1 teaspoon each garlic paste and salt, and remaining teaspoon coriander and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Divide into 24 pieces; roll into balls. Stuff each meatball with a prune quarter; roll to enclose.
Instead of that whole whirling garlic-ginger-water thing, I used equal amounts of Gourmet Garden's Chunky Garlic and Ginger. I usually have a tube of each in my fridge.
I used culantro instead of cilantro. Identical taste, and culantro reportedly lasts longer in the fridge.
I used 12 prunes and cut them in half. I portioned the meat by using the medium scoop, and stuffed each meatball with one-half of a prune.
Everything else was the same as the original recipe. These are delicious.