When you think of Jewish food, a few classics come to mind: chicken soup with matzo balls, challah, maybe a babka if you’re feeling adventurous. But as food writer and nice Jewish boy Jake Cohen demonstrates in this stunning debut cookbook, Jewish food can be so much more.
In Jew-ish, he reinvents the food of his Ashkenazi heritage and draws inspiration from his husband’s Persian-Iraqi traditions to offer recipes that are modern, fresh, and enticing for a whole new generation of readers. Imagine the components of an everything bagel wrapped into a flaky galette latke dyed vibrant yellow with saffron for a Persian spin on the potato pancake, best-ever hybrid desserts like Macaroon Brownies and Pumpkin Spice Babka! Jew-ish features elevated, yet approachable classics along with innovative creations, such as:
- Jake’s Perfect Challah
- Roasted Tomato Brisket
- Short Rib Cholent
- Iraqi Beet Kubbeh Soup
- Cacio e Pepe Rugelach
- Sabich Bagel Sandwiches, and
- Matzo Tiramisu.
Jew-ish is a brilliant collection of delicious recipes, but it’s much more than that. As Jake reconciles ancient traditions with our modern times, his recipes become a celebration of a rich and vibrant history, a love story of blending cultures, and an invitation to gather around the table and create new memories with family, friends, and loved ones.
Roasted Chicken Matzo Ball Soup
YIELD: SERVES 6 TO 8
PREP TIME: 30 MINUTES, PLUS 1 HOUR
CHILLING TIME COOK TIME: 1 HOUR
How do you like your balls? It’s one of the more divisive questions in the Jewish community. Obviously, I’m referring to balls of the matzo variety, but I’m happy to discuss all others in my DMs. The two schools of thought we shall debate today are small and dense or huge and fluffy. As you know, for every five Jews there about fifteen opinions, but this happens to be a topic that I don’t passionately take a side-on. My balls fall somewhere in between, greased up with a healthy amount of schmaltz. I want them to be fluffy and easily scooped with the touch of a spoon, while also modest in size, so I can have two, of course.
You can easily make these matzo balls and add them to my Saffron Chicken Noodle Soup (page 138), but I wanted to create a flavorful broth that was easy to throw together since if you’re making matzo balls, you’re probably cooking up a storm for entertaining, a holiday, or both. By roasting the chicken legs and vegetables first, you’re able to fortify the golden broth faster while imparting even more flavour. And you better believe I have chunks of chicken and vegetables in my broth. There’s nothing sadder than matzo balls served in chicken soup without any of the chicken, so I’m giving you all the meat you deserve.
My only request: If you make this recipe, be sure to send me a pic of your balls!
FOR THE MATZO BALLS
2 cups matzo meal
1⁄2 cup schmaltz (see page 6), melted
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
6 large eggs, beaten 2⁄3 cup seltzer water
FOR THE SOUP
2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken legs (4 medium)
1 pound carrots (4 medium), scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound parsnips (4 large), scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 cups chicken stock
¼ cup minced fresh dill
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- For the matzo balls: In a large bowl, stir together the matzo meal, melted schmaltz, dill, salt, and eggs until smooth. Gently stir in the seltzer until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Scoop the chilled matzo mixture into 1⁄4-cup balls, using wet hands to roll them until smooth. You should have about 14 matzo balls. Gently add the matzo balls, one at a time, to the boiling water. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until fluffy and tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes, then keep warm until the soup is ready.
- For the soup: While the matzo balls cook, preheat the oven to 450°F.
- On a half sheet pan, toss together the chicken legs, carrots, parsnips, onion, olive oil, and a heavy pinch each of salt and pepper, then arrange the legs skin-side up on the pan. Roast for 30 minutes, until the vegetables and chicken are lightly golden.
- Transfer the vegetables and chicken to a large pot and cover with the stock and 4 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer and cook until the chicken is extremely tender, about 30 minutes. Using a ladle, skim off any fat from the top of the liquid and discard. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
- Transfer the chicken legs to a bowl and let cool slightly. Once they are cool enough to handle, use two forks to shred the meat and discard the skin and bones. Stir the shredded chicken, dill, and lemon zest into the soup, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked matzo balls to serving bowls, then ladle the soup over and serve.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.