Chicken With Matzo Dumplings Not Just For Passover
Passover is a Jewish festival that commemorates the story of Exodus. In that story, ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt, and men, women and children of Jewish heritage celebrated that liberation during Passover, a seven- or eight-day festival that is one of the more widely observed Jewish holidays.
Passover celebrations begin on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nisan. That day typically falls in March or April of the Gregorian calendar. One of the symbols of Passover is matzo, an unleavened flatbread made from flour and water. Though matzo is an enduring symbol of Passover, that does not mean it cannot be enjoyed at other times of the year. In fact, those who want to celebrate their Jewish heritage or even those who simply want to experience Jewish culture can enjoy matzo throughout the year. It’s even possible to get a little creative with matzo.
Such is the case with the following recipe for “Chicken With Matzo Dumplings” from Michael van Straten’s “The Healthy Jewish Cookbook” (Frog, Ltd.). This delicious recipe can be a part of your Passover celebration or just a meal to sit down and enjoy with family and friends.
Chicken With Matzo Dumplings
For the broth
1 leftover chicken carcass, all skin and fat removed
2 Spanish onions, 1 whole and unpeeled, the other peeled and chopped
1 leek, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, with leaves if possible, coarsely chopped
4 bay leaves
1 large spring of rosemary
2 large sprigs of thyme
1 large sprig of sage
4 large sprigs of parsley
12 white peppercorns
Note: You can use good-quality, low-salt kosher chicken stock cubes or bouillon powder, but the recipe above for homemade broth is recommended.
For the dumplings:
7 ounces medium matzo meal (about 8 matzo sheets, ground up)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 grindings of black pepper
2 pinches of salt
First, make the broth. Put the carcass in a large pot and cover with about 21/2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the vegetables, herbs and peppercorns, return to a boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Strain, reserving the broth.
Make the dumplings by mixing all the dumpling ingredients together, then knead until you have a smooth dough, adding a little water if necessary. Cover and let rest for at least 3 hours. Using your hands, form the mixture into balls the size of apricots. To put it all together, bring the chicken broth up to simmering point. Drop in the dumplings and continue simmering, covered, for 30 minutes.
If you don’t have a chicken carcass, boil a whole chicken for the soup and use the meat in other dishes. Traditionally, a boiling fowl from a kosher butcher would be used. Health note: This is the famous “Jewish penicillin” beloved of every mother and grandmother. It’s not an old wives’ tale; there’s good scientific evidence that it contains vitamins, minerals and other natural chemicals that are antibacterial and immune-boosting. In addition, nutrients and valuable plant chemicals are extracted from the vegetables and herbs during the cooking process, most of which end up as active ingredients in the finished soup. -MC
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