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Don't Passover These Matzo Balls

Eggs, schmaltz (chicken fat), matzo meal, and salt: How can four such simple ingredients yield such tribe-dividing opinions? However you like your balls, we’ve found a place for you on the matzo continuum.

Wise Sons Deli.

The bowl at Max's.

The Wise Child: Wise Sons Deli
Wise Sons (3150 24th St. at Shotwell, 415-787-3354) is certainly the hippest local deli: Cooks behind the counter have beanies and dreads instead of yarmulkes (Jewish skullcaps) and peyos (sidecurls). But its matzo balls have deep old-world roots—of the denser kind. You’ll find one jumbo matzo ball sitting at the bottom of the bowl, and you can really taste the fine-grained meal. Rich with chicken flavor and sprinkled with a few noodles (to be removed this week), the broth tastes like it simmered on the stove for hours.

The Simple Child: Max’s at the Opera
Max’s (601 Van Ness at Golden Gate, 415-771-7300) has an old-guard New York deli feel, even if the clientele is a happy mix of the goy and the faithful. The broth is a bit generic, with vegetables that quickly dissolve and chicken that’s a tad chewy. But the matzo balls are actually quite good—they’re fluffy to Wise Sons’ firm (they float rather than sink), and they’re pleasantly spiced with black pepper and what tasted to this diner like a dash of clove.

The Non-Traditional Child: Delfina
Beginning today, Delfina (3621 18th St. at Guerrero, 415-552-4055) serves up its twist on Jewish classics, including a matzo ball made with walnuts. The jury’s still out on that variation, but given how great everything else is at Delfina, the odds of success are high. While you’re at it, try their other seder offerings, such as brisket brassato, made with plum prunes and polenta, and their matzo toffee. If reservations are as hard to come by as they usually are, you can order your Pesach to take out.

What Child Is This?: Rosa Mexicano
If you’re willing to stray even farther from your Bubbe’s classic, Rosa Mexicano (30 Mission St. at Steuart St., 415-874-4300) has just the thing. Today through April 2nd, the upscale restaurant chain will be serving its first local Seder dinner (they’ve been doing it in other cities for 14 years), featuring Jewish classics reimagined Mexican-style, including three flavors of feather-light matzo balls: chipotle/marrow, poblano, and tomato jalapeno. Executive Chef David Suarez (Spanish for “Schwartz,” he likes to say) has graciously agreed to share his recipes with us (each one makes 20 small balls or fewer large ones). And if you can make it to the full Seder, you’ll certainly have a night that’s different from all other nights. Chopped liver will arrive atop a small pool of salsa verde; brisket will be wrapped in a banana leaf and barbecued; salmon will come with tropical fruit mole. Even the chocolate in “Grandma Shapiro’s Strudel” will be paired with chipotle. Buen provecho!

Chipotle/Marrow Matzo Balls

Ingredients: 4 eggs, 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoons schmaltz (chicken fat), 1 cup matzo meal, 2 tablespoons marrow (from a large marrow bone), 1/2 chipotle pepper (more if you like it really spicy), 1/8 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated 2 heaping tablespoons cilantro, chopped 1 tablespoon chopped onion

How to make: 1. In a blender, purée the chipotle pepper and cilantro with the water until smooth. 2. In a bowl, beat the eggs until the yokes and whites are well combined. 3. Sautee the onion in the schmaltz until brown; let cool. 4. Scoop out marrow with a knife. Drop in cold water and gently press with your fingers until all the blood is out and is white. (This takes a little time but it’s worth it). 5. Place the marrow in a mixing bowl and cream it until it has the consistency of mayonnaise. 6. Add the egg and mix well. 7. Add the purée and then the onion and ginger to the mixture and stir until incorporated. 8. Gradually add the matzo meal until fully incorporated. 9. Cover and refrigerate for two hours (or overnight). 10. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, 11. Form the matzo balls using about 1.5 tablespoons for each. Make smaller or larger depending on preference. 12. Drop into boiling water and cook for 30 minutes.

Poblano Matzo Balls

Ingredients: 4 eggs, 1 cup Matzo meal, 1/2 cup seltzer or water, 6 tablespoons melted schmaltz (chicken fat), 1/2 Poblano pepper, 1/4 bunch cilantro, Salt and black pepper to taste

How to make: 1. In a blender, purée the cilantro with enough of the seltzer (or water) to make it smooth. 2. In a bowl, beat the eggs until the yokes and whites are well combined. 3. Gradually mix in the purée, schmaltz, and remaining seltzer (or water). 4. Gradually add the matzo meal, salt, and pepper until fully incorporated. 5. Cover and refrigerate for two hours (or overnight). 6. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. 7. Form the matzo balls using about 1.5 tablespoons for each. Make smaller or larger depending on preference. 8. Drop into boiling water and cook for 30 minutes.

Tomato/Jalapeño Matzo Balls

Ingredients: 4 eggs, 1 cup matzo meal, 1/2 cup seltzer or water, 6 tablespoons melted schmaltz (chicken fat), 1/2 Roma tomato, 1/4 bunch cilantro, 1 jalapeño, Salt and black pepper to taste

How to make: 1. In a blender, purée the tomato, jalapeno and cilantro with enough of the seltzer (or water) to make it smooth. 2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until the yokes and whites are well combined. 3. Gradually mix in the purée, schmaltz, and remaining seltzer (or water). 4. Gradually add the matzo meal, salt, and pepper until fully incorporated. 5. Cover and refrigerate for two hours (or overnight). 6. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. 7. Form the matzo balls using about 1.5 tablespoons for each. Make smaller or larger depending on preference. 8. Drop into boiling water and cook for 30 minutes.

 

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