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Need a new matzo ball...
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Joined: 29 Oct 2006
Posts: 218
Location: Heaven, actually.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 12:57 am    Post subject: Steaming balls of Matzo Reply with quote

Hi All! Greetings from Matzo Ball Central!

Due to unfortunate complications from this year's Flu Virus From Hades, I was grounded from flying and had to cancel my trip to help my brother cook the Seder meal the other day.

Not one to sit in misery for longer than I already have (18 days now), I have decided to fight the germies in my body with some heat and creative matzo balls. Calling in a recipe favor, I obtained the formula for a Belizean dish called "Health Stew", aka, Iguana Stew. I had this last year in Woodstock with dear friends over a Scrabble board on a snowy night. I took the rice out, as its Passover, and made some fluff-a-licious knaidlach.

(I don't think Iguana is kosher so I opted for the poultry option)

Gerry's Iguana Stew

The Meat:

1 lb. Iguana, chicken, or other poultry – cut into strips or shredded

(Iguanas are called Bamboo Chickens in Belize)

1 cup +/- Lime juice – fresh squeezed is best

1 Tbs Sugar

Cooking oil

The Sauce:

3 Tbs Soy (or Teriyaki sauce can be substituted)

2-1/2 tsp each: Allspice, Garlic powder, black pepper

1-1/2 tsp each: Paprika and salt

The Stock:

5 cups Chicken or Vegetable broth

¼ stick Butter (I used peanut oil)

3-4 medium Carrots – chopped

1 large Sweet Onion – diced

6+ cloves Garlic – crushed and minced fine

3-5 Jalapeno Peppers – chopped relatively fine, or one whole Habanero & 2 or less Jalapenos peppers - wash hands very well after handling peppers, DO NOT TOUCH FACE!! ( I used one whole Habanero that popped during simmering - it was PLENTY of heat. Remove it before you hurt someone at the table)

½ Bell Pepper – red or yellow, diced

2 cups cooked rice or small pasta shells (optional)

Cooking the stuff:

1. Wash meat very well. Soak washed chicken in Lime juice 3-6 hours, (a large zip-lock bag works well). Remove and discard juice.

2. In a small cup mix all Sauce ingredients very well. Coat chicken with ½ sauce (or more if needed) and marinate as long as possible, up to 24 hours. Bag from above can be used.

3. Cover bottom of large skillet with a little oil (not more than ¼” deep) and heat over med-high flame. Add Sugar to hot oil and stir well until sugar begins to brown. Add coated meat to pan and stir well. Cover and cook until meat is golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add remaining sauce and cook until meat is done. Drain well and set aside. Bring broth to boil in stockpot.

4. Wipe skillet of excess oil and add ¼ stick butter. Heat until butter is bubbly then add Carrots for 4 minutes. Add Onions and Garlic 4 minutes. Increase heat and sweat hot peppers 3-4 minutes. Do NOT breathe the steam!

5. Add sautéed vegetables and chopped Bell Pepper to stockpot. Add meat to stockpot and return to boil. (I added a half cup or more of the simmered sauce back in at this time)

6. Cover and reduce heat to simmer 20 minutes. Add rice or pasta if using, simmer 10 minutes more. Serve with Tortillas, Avocados, corn on the cob and lots of cold drinks!

I am going to try it with a nice, heat-cutting semisweet white wine for Passover tonight instead of the usual Beers and Bitters as is customary. I guess Habanero can step in for the bitter herb, right?

I made matzo balls using a little of everyone's help*:

1 cup matzo meal
3 tablespoons peanut oil
dash chili oil
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons lime zest
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 green onion sliced finely
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup water
1 clove garlic, pasted

Yes, I beat the egg whites. Next time, I might leave out half the whites from the mixer and put them into the meal base itself- it was rather thick without the excess moisture.)

Beat 2 egg whites until they are stiff, but not dry like KYHeirloomer recommended.

In a large bowl, mix oil, garlic, chili flakes, zest and microwave for about 50 seconds to heat and get the aroma going. Let cool. Add in the yolks, two whites and water, whisking well to incorporate. Add in salt, bell pepper and onion. Stir in the matzo meal and quickly fold in the whites before the concrete sets. Trust me, it gets ugly, fast.

Chill the batter about a half hour and form balls by the two-tablespoon size. (I made mine all at one time and dropped them all into the pot at the same time). I simmered mine about 20 minutes in salted water- any more than that and I think I would have waterlogged them.

They came out really fluffy (as I had used 4 whipped whites), very mildly flavored and not as spicy as I'd hoped, but the lime zest kicked in nicely at the finish.

I will add them to the Iguana Stew at the serving time. The addition of the simmering sauce really coats the matzo balls well on the spoon and it makes them markedly tastier.

*This recipe reflects changes I would make the next time!

Lessons Learned: Never underestimate the complete dampening power of matzo, among other talents. Kick the goods up a serious notch if you are going to overcome the sheer fright of anything other than a schmaltz and parsley version. Never go to a general practitioner when you got serious bugs going on, find a specialist. Fight the flu with fire!

Raise your glasses with me and say it, "Next year in...PERFECT HEALTH!"
There is only one way to die- With a full stomach and a good tan.
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Joined: 11 Mar 2005
Posts: 696
Location: israel

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear about your flu Jen.
Your kneidalach are definitely original . We had good ones yesterday at our religious relatives ( religious relatives are a real bonus during the jewish feasts, as we are completely secular ) though we had to wait for them nearly a whole hour - because they read all the haggadah, including the small lettered words. She did them in the classical way - adding a lot of fried onions - bad health wise but very tasty ,though not fluffy.
There were lot of kids , and songs continued well into the night. Actually, once or twice a year, I love being traditional...
Now that the seder is over, we can return to normal life....
Maybe next year .. in perfect health AND in Jerusalem???

No more war, more good, unhealthy matzo balls once a year!!!
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Joined: 21 Apr 2008
Posts: 16
Location: Binghamton, NY

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the in depth recipe Knife...I shall try it this week!
Recent culinary graduate, with a chocolate and smidgens obsession.
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Joined: 29 Oct 2006
Posts: 218
Location: Heaven, actually.

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


With my parents dining as guests of a Druze friend at an air force base in Israel, and my brother managing just fine without me, I admit I felt a little left out, but glad all had a good time. I managed to scrounge up a last minute invitation for a throw-together dinner and it was marvelous, actually. With little contributions from everyone, it was just good to share stories and look for inventive new uses for bad matzo.

I, too recall attending orthodox seders that went by the letter, by the book, running until the sun came up. Often there would only be enough time for a nap and a second setting of the table, and then back at it one more time (usually faster than the night before).

I confess that I missed that familiar scent and sensuous taste of schmaltz, onions and gribenes (chicken fat, carmelized ontion and chicken cracklings) in my matzo ball this year. I got to tell my other so in a phone call the next morning, which I am sure tickled her to no end.

Rachael, please let me know how your Iguana comes out! I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs because Iguana is hard to come by in Oregon Wink
There is only one way to die- With a full stomach and a good tan.
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