Every year in the late winter/early spring, my grammie and grandpa would devote an entire weekend to making matzo balls. It was a huge affair and they would churn out way over 100 of them to be used at various seders and dinners. Though they enjoyed the end results and the appreciation from the family for these tasty treats, they always made it seem like somewhat of an ordeal. So, despite the fact that my grammie gave me her recipe over 10 years ago, I was hesitant to attempt them, as if the task were simply too Herculean. But this year, I resolved to try and...I found them to be kind of easy and not really too much work at all! Maybe it was just the sheer volume of it all for them! Anyway, these are so delicious and unique too, in that they're filled with fried onions and chopped almonds, which makes them more dense and hearty than ordinary matzo balls. You're gonna love 'em!!
As I've said before, Grammie was not from the cooks, but what she did make was always yummy. In our family she was famous for these and my dad even had a little song he would always tease her with as she doled them out, "Grandma's matzo balls are known to be very fine. One rolled off the table and killed a friend of mine!" (I know, we're a strange family!) Though she'd give him a reproachful look, she secretly loved the song and the attention. Ok, enough with the family secrets! Here's how you make these little guys--
You start by soaking matzo in warm water and then squeezing the excess water out from the softened matzos, effectively making matzo mush.
Meanwhile, you fry chopped onions in vegetable oil. My Grammie always used chicken fat, but I just can't bring myself to actually cook with it. Plus I came up with an easy way to get over the chicken fat issue which I'll reveal shortly.
Then you mix the matzo mush with those fried onions, some eggs, chopped almonds, salt, pepper and matzo meal and form them into little balls.
Now for the big reveal: cook the matzo balls in chicken broth instead of water! That way, the matzo balls become infused with the flavor that the chicken fat would bring, but without all that grease.
Now, these take a pretty long time to boil, about 1 1/2 hours. But the wait is totally worth it. These are not as light and fluffy as traditional matzo balls but have a rather chewy denser texture with the wonderful crunch of almonds and the sweet caramelization of fried onions. Like my Grammie, they're one-of-a-kind!
Grandma Bella's Amazing Matzo Balls
Makes about 14-16 matzo balls
Prep Time: 25 minutes; Cook Time: 1-1 1/2 hours
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup corn oil
- 3 sheets of matzo
- 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds, chopped roughly
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2-3/4 cup matzo meal
- 2 quarts chicken broth
1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Fry onions till golden brown. Transfer onions and oil to a bowl and allow to cool a bit.
2. Pour chicken broth into a large pot, bring to a boil and then turn down very low, but not off.
3. Into a medium bowl, break up matzo and cover with warm tap water. Let sit for a few minutes until softened. Over the sink, squeeze handfuls of matzo free of as much water as possible and transfer to a large bowl. Add in cooled onions, eggs, egg yolk, almonds, and salt and pepper. Mix together well. Now add in 1/2 cup of matzo meal and stir to mix. If mixture seems too wet to roll into balls, add a little more matzo meal. Wet your hands slightly and and roll the mixture into balls the size of a small peach and transfer to a plate. Bring the chicken broth back to a boil. Using a large spoon, carefully slide matzo balls into the boiling liquid. Once balls rise to the surface, turn the heat to medium-low and continue to boil for at least 1 hour. At the 1 hour mark, you can take one matzo ball out and check to see if it's done by cutting it in half. If it still seems uncooked, continue to cook at a low boil for another 1/2 hour. (You may need to add more liquid--it's fine to add tap water at this point). When balls are done, remove with a slotted spoon to drain them.
4. Serve immediately in a bowl of chicken soup, though these are delicious on their own as well.
5. Cooked matzo balls keep for several days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.