July 21, 2014
faux boules de pain azyme
(fake matzo balls)
If the average Jewish mother making matzo balls for her family Seder is a sprinter, my mother was a matzo‑ball marathoner. In the 1950s and into the 60s, she’d prepare the matzo balls for the local temple’s community Seder. This usually meant making between 900 and 1000 matzo balls for a single meal. It was a job she took seriously and often alone. She had long‑since pissed off any volunteer offering help with her perfectionist desire that all the matzo balls be the same size and perfect spheres. When I was old enough, she tried to draft me to help, but I quickly learned what was necessary to be summarily fired.
Though she would make matzo balls for others, it was rare that any of us at home would get more than three in a large bowl of soup for our Seder. If you are familiar with the softball‑sized matzo balls found in New York delis you are now saying that that’s a lot of matzo balls, but my mothers matzo balls were rarely larger than a three‑quartered‑scale ping‑pong ball.
The only exception to the three‑matzo‑balls‑a‑year rule came the day I had my four wisdom teeth removed. That night, I was served about twenty with just a little soup. I could barely open my mouth and I couldn’t chew, but her matzo balls were always so tender that I could crush them against the roof of my mouth with my tongue. By the time I left the family home a year later for college, I had eaten the last of my mother’s matzo balls.
Years later, long after my mother’s early death in 1981, I asked my brother if he had her recipe. He let me in on a little secret: She just fixed the recipe on the box of matzo meal and used good schmaltz!
But it wasn’t these memories of mom’s matzo balls that caused me to create this amuse‑bouche. It was a question I saw on Facebook where someone claimed to be unable to purchase matzo meal at their local market and asked what to substitute. Since matzo meal is just ground up matzos, the answer seemed rather obvious to me. But it also got me thinking. If I was to make matzo balls for an amuse‑bouche, how would I go about it? Certainly not with matzos. I haven’t eaten them since I left home in 1966, and I do not plan to start now.
1.8 g (3⁄8 t)
Knorr chicken‑flavor bouillon powder
20 g (4 t)
soft, unsalted butter
4 g (1⁄2 T)
80 g (1⁄2+ c)
ground, blanched almonds
100 ml (33⁄8 fl oz)
1. To make the dough: Whisk the egg, chives, salt, and bouillon powder together. Add the butter. Whisk until the butter pieces are very small.
2. Combine the starch with the almond flour. Fold this mixture into the egg mixture with a rubber spatula.
3. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about an hour. Form into tablespoon‑sized balls.
4. Bring the chicken broth to a low boil. Simmer the balls, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the balls from the soup with a slotted spoon.
5. To make the sauce: Whisk a measured amount of the hot broth with the xanthan gum until the gum is fully hydrated and dispersed. The broth should thicken a little.
6. If serving immediately, place an individual ball in a small bowl and add a little hot sauce. If not serving immediately, individually freeze the balls and the sauce. Thaw before reheating.
Yield: 16 servings.