When it comes to Passover (AKA Pesach), most families have more traditions than Fiddler on the Roof. I was all set to make you a super traditional matzo ball with homemade chicken schmaltz and gribenes. I figured this was going to be an easy challenge to beat Rachel at. How could a vegetarian gluten free dish beat (to quote Walter from The Big Lebowski) “…three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax”. So I spent hours slowly rendering chicken skin to extract some liquid gold and produce crispy little chicken skin cracklings, and then…and then one of my kids spilled my schmaltz. All over the kitchen floor. Needless to say, I was not happy.
That is when I went in to problem solving mode. What do I have in the house that is similar to schmaltz? That is where I completely broke with tradition and went to one of my favorite crutches, (kosher) bacon. Ask your Bubby, there ain’t nothing traditional about bacon. That being said, it does provide fat and crunch just like schmaltz and gribenes.
Let me know what you think of the recipe in the comments. Also, let me know if you like my matzo ball soup or Rachel’s better. You can find hers here: Minestrone Soup with Gluten-Free Matzah Balls
A classic kosher comfort dish. It's good for what ails you, they don't call it Jewish penicillin for nothing. I don't like anything too fancy in my chicken soup so I stay away from things like zucchini and tomatoes, but if you like them feel free to add them, it won't hurt anything.
One final note, your soup will never taste as good as your mother's for 2 reasons:
1. Memories are a strong force
2. She probably added some soup mix with MSG to give it that little something extra.
- 4 Medium Carrots Peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds
- 4 Ribs Celery Rinsed, tops and bottoms cut off and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 Large Sweet Potato Peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 Turnip Peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 Parsnip Peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds
- 1 Onion Peeled and roughly chopped
- Salt To taste
- Pepper To taste
- 1 Handful Dill
- 1 Handful Parsley
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 4 Chicken Leg Quarters Remove and save the fat and skin to make schmaltz
Put all the ingredients in your largest pot and fill with enough water to cover everything, making sure not to fill too high in order to prevent it from boiling over.
Cover the pot and put over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the soup is at a boil remove the lid and turn the heat down to a simmer.
Let the soup simmer for about four hours or until the soup reduces by about 15%.
Remove chicken from the bones, adding the chicken back in to the soup and discarding the bones. Serve within a week or freeze for up to six months.
- 1/2 Cup Matzo Meal
- 2 tbsp Cold Chicken Stock
- 2 tbsp Fat (Kosher) Bacon grease, chicken schmaltz, or vegetable oil
- 1 Large Egg Beaten
- 2 tbsp (Kosher) Bacon or Gribenes Chopped very fine
- 2 quarts Chicken Stock For cooking the Matzo Balls
Add all ingredients except the 2 quarts of chicken stock in a large mixing bowl, stir with a large wooden spoon, ideally one passed down from your Bubby, until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Put the mixture in the fridge for about an hour to hydrate.
Roll out the matzo balls just slightly smaller than a golf ball and cook in chicken stock for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately or remove from liquid and freeze.