Dumpling Lovers Unite…Morel Mushroom Matzo Balls – make a splash for your family and guests!

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As the season approaches for Morels and Matzo Balls…it got me thinking – what a likely combination! With the semi-delicate texture and benign flavor of the matzo balls – the dumplings serve as the perfect backdrop for these woodsy fungi.

Correct, the Morels won’t be a forage option for the Passover Holiday (at least not in Michigan), but those masters of camouflage are indeed, signs of spring. Reconstituted Morels work just fine in this recipe as will fresh. If you are unsure of how to rehydrate mushrooms – please see the morel blog – Definitely a Morel Decision…my passion for that springtime shroom all year round, for instructions.

This is a dish that can be made all year round and doesn’t have to be related to the spring season. Matzo Ball Soup is just plain comfort food anytime of the year. You can make your own Chicken Soup or use prepared, but Matzo Balls fresh from scratch, can’t be beat. Add the prized fungi to plain matzo balls — now you have a little piece of culinary heaven!

The following recipes are included in my book, The Art of Cooking Morels. You can find the book on Amazon

Dried Morels ready to be reconstituted

Dried Morels ready to be reconstituted

Mixing the Matzo Ball Batter

Mixing the Matzo Ball Batter

Finished Cooking - Matzo Balls ready to be drained...remember not to peek while cooking

Finished Cooking – Matzo Balls ready to be drained…remember not to peek while cooking

Finished Morel Matzo Balls draining

Finished Morel Matzo Balls draining

Morel Matzo Balls in Chicken Soup

Morel Matzo Balls in Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup with Lemon, Morel, and Thyme Matzo Balls
If you prefer a very dense matzo ball, reduce the amount of egg by half. Sorry matzo ball devotees, – no chicken fat! Use homemade or prepared Chicken Stock (see below for Chicken Stock recipe).

Yield: 15-16 matzo balls

Ingredients:
1 ounce dried morels, brushed, reconstituted, and drained (liquid reserved)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup plain sparkling water or seltzer
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (Meyer lemons if possible)
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (preferably lemon thyme), leaves only
1 1/4-1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt (or to taste)
1/8-1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup matzo meal

Directions:
In a medium-sized nonstick sauté pan, add reconstituted morels and 1/4 cup of reserved liquid; cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes (adding more liquid if necessary during cooking process); stir frequently. When morels have absorbed all liquid, remove from heat and cool slightly; process in a food processor fitted with the steel “s” blade on pulse. Set aside.

In a large non-reactive bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk. Stir in the seltzer, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, minced fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Gradually add the matzo meal, stirring until the mixture is well mixed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. Remove from fridge and add the chopped morels; mix well.

Place a large round Dutch oven or Stockpot almost filled with water over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. With wet hands, place approximately two tablespoons (or use a scoop that holds 2 Tablespoons) of matzo ball mixture in the palms of your hands – pat into a ball, and drop into the boiling water. Repeat the process until all of the matzo-morel mixture is used. Note: don’t get them too wet from your hands!

When all the matzo balls are placed in the water; lid the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low (if the heat appears too hot after a few minutes – reduce it further, to low). Cook the matzo balls lidded for 30 minutes – no peaking! Keeping the pot lidded, throughout the cooking process, will prevent the matzo balls from falling apart.

After 30 minutes, gently remove the Kneidlach from the pot and place one or two, per soup bowl (depending on the size of the bowl) then add your chicken soup. If not using immediately, remove the matzo balls from the water and place in one layer on paper toweling; let cool slightly. Place them in a low container (keeping them in one layer if possible); refrigerate until ready for use – do not store them in the soup (they will become too soggy).

Cook’s Note: if you don’t have seltzer handy – but have a Whip-It – works perfectly well for sparkling water!!

Need a recipe for Chicken Stock or Soup:

Huge Batch Chicken Stock for Recipes:
This recipe has instructions for roasting the chicken first – if you want to save that step, feel free – but the roasting gives it an awesome flavor! Often times I will cut off the white meat for meals and use the rest for soup.
NOTE: If you are using this recipe for chicken soup…YOU WILL A WHOLE LOT MORE MATZO BALLS than in the recipe above – PLAN AHEAD!

Ingredients:
Olive oil spray
6-8 pounds chicken/3 whole chickens (minus chicken breasts – reserve chicken breasts
for other recipes), quartered, fat and skin removed (keep all bones – use neck and
giblets – not the liver) Note: the cooked liver is a special treat for your dogs!
3 large Vidalia onions, peeled and quartered
1 bulb garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 cup white wine
6 carrots trimmed and peeled
1 whole celery heart, ribs trimmed and core discarded
1 (2-3 inch) piece of fresh ginger root, peeled
Lemon verbena sprigs, 3-inch piece of lemon grass, or a whole fresh lemon cut in half
1-2 hot peppers (Thai or finger peppers), trimmed (seeded and deveined, if desired)
Note: – will be hotter with seeds
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Fresh thyme sprigs
Fresh parsley sprigs
Kosher or sea salt
20 cups cold water (or enough to cover ingredients)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place oven rack to middle position.
In a large roaster sprayed with olive oil spray, add chicken, onions and garlic.
(Salt lightly if desired).
Place in oven and bake for about 35 minutes; splash with wine and continue to bake, basting periodically (total baking time will range depending on size of pieces), until well cooked and nicely browned. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a huge stockpot, add roasted chicken and assorted bones (neck, etc.), add carrots, celery ginger root, lemon verbena or lemon grass, peppers, rosemary, thyme, and parsley.
Cover with water and place on stove over medium heat. When reaches boil, skim any foam from top and discard. Reduce heat to just a simmer and continue to cook for at least 6 hours or longer. Add additional water if necessary to keep all submerged and adjust seasonings.

With a fine mesh strainer or a colander lined with doubled cheesecloth and set in a huge bowl, ladle stock through the strainer; quickly cool and refrigerate (do not set lids on until stock completely chills – ovenight). Remove fat and discard (if fat is not thick and removable with a spoon/lay paper toweling over stock and pat down slightly – toweling will absorb the fat). Once fat-free stock is cold, keep refrigerated or freeze in containers for later use.
Note: you can keep stock refrigerated 4-5 days. Freeze 3-6 months (preferably 3 months).

Make your Morel Matzo Balls the star of your meal

Make your Morel Matzo Balls the star of your meal

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