Bon Bon, I Think I Need Some...
Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls!
One approx. 4 lb chicken fryer, washed and left whole
12-14 whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 TB chopped garlic
2 medium carrots, washed, peeled and halved
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered*
2 stems celery, washed and cut into thirds - and leaves from one stalk of celery
*Tip: To avoid as few tears as possible, try cutting the onion under running cold water. Also, to avoid odor on your hands, first dampen them with lemon juice.
1. The Chicken:
Put the whole chicken into a 4 qt. or larger** cooking pot. Add all other ingredients and cover with cool water, leaving at least a 2" space from the top of the pot. Over medium high heat, bring to a simmer (watch carefully to avoid boiling over). Reduce heat to a medium low simmer, cover and cook about 2 hours.
2. The Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat for the matzo balls):
Note: You can substitute vegetable oil: the matzo balls will be good; they're just better with schmaltz - or you can buy schmaltz - homemade is, here again, even better.
3 cups chicken fat (I just accumulate in a container in the freezer.)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (frozen is fine)
Melt (render) the fat over low heat in a heavy frying pan on the stove. Before the fat is completely melted, add the onion and cook until the remaining fat cracklings are crisp and golden brown. Strain the onion and cracklings (gribenes -Yiddish for scraps) through a cheesecloth or a fine strainer, pressing the gribenes gently to remove all fat. Store schmaltz in the refrigerator or freezer. Use gribenes as desired: typically on rye or pumpernickel bread, or in recipes.
3. The Matzo Balls (These are light and very flavorful) - Makes about 12-16 balls:
Note: The matzo balls are optional, but you're missing out if you don't try them!
4 TB schmaltz (melted)
4 large eggs (slightly beaten)
1c. matzo meal (you can buy, or you can use up leftover matzo by finely grinding to a meal - I use a blender to grind)
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
4 TB stock from the chicken soup
Stir together schmaltz, eggs, matzo meal, salt and garlic powder. Add chicken stock and mix well. Cover and freeze for about 15 minutes (until very cold, but not hard), or refrigerate for about 1 hr. With wet hands, gently handling as little as possible, form the mixture into about 1" balls, placing them on a plate; set aside.
Return to the chicken soup: With two large slotted spoons, carefully take the chicken out of the soup and place in a large bowl. Remove (I do this under running cool water) and discard the skin and bones from the chicken, and set the meat aside. Strain the vegetables from the soup, and add the chicken meat back to the soup. (You can leave the vegetables in the soup if you desire; however, you may need larger than a 4 qt.** pot in order to accommodate the matzo balls.)
Add about 4 more cups of water to the soup, leaving a minimum 2" space from the top of the pot and bring soup to a brisk boil. Reduce heat and carefully add, with a wet spoon, one matzo ball at a time. Bring soup to a low boil (the matzo balls will rise to the top; if not, gently pry them with a cooking spoon), cover and cook 30-40 minutes. Enjoy!
What's That Got to do with This?
Bet you've never played this game with a toddler (in my case, my grandchild)...
OH, THERE HE IS!!