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Author Notes: The secret ingredient in these matzo balls is the drippings from a freshly roasted chicken. The savory chicken flavor of this homemade schmaltz is incomparable when added to the matzo ball mixture.
In terms of texture, these matzo balls are firm without being dense, and slightly fluffy. —Josh Cohen
Serves 6 to 8
For the fortified chicken stock
- 1 whole chicken
- 12 cloves garlic, divided
- 1/2 lemon
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
- Olive oil
- 32 ounces unsalted chicken stock
- 32 ounces water (replace water with chicken stock if your stock is homemade)
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander
- 1 yellow onion, large diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh dill
For the matzo balls
- 2 medium carrots, washed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 ribs of celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 5 tablespoons chicken fat
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chicken stock
- 1 cup matzo meal
- 2 tablespoons seltzer
- A handful of chopped fresh dill sprigs to garnish
- Make the fortified chicken stock: Preheat the oven to 425° F. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with 4 smashed cloves of garlic, 1/2 lemon, 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, and 2 sprigs of fresh sage. Rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil, and season aggressively with salt. Place the chicken in a large Dutch oven or roasting pan, and cook for approximately 45 minutes, until the skin is golden and the dark meat is fully cooked. Set the chicken aside until it is cool enough to handle.
- Fill a large pot with the stock, water, peppercorns, coriander, onion, bay leaf, and 8 crushed cloves of garlic. Break the chicken down into pieces, making sure to capture and reserve all the fat and juices that are released. Discard the skin, reserve all of the meat, and place all bones and inedible bits into the large pot with the stock. Store the chicken meat in the refrigerator. You will need approximately 2 cups of shredded chicken for the soup, and any remaining chicken can be eaten as a snack or put to another use. Collect all fat and drippings from the roasted chicken and store it in the refrigerator (you will use some of this fat/drippings to make the matzo balls later). Set the stock pot over high heat. When the stock is boiling, reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer. Cook for 50 minutes. Add the dill and cook for 10 additional minutes. Strain the stock. Please note, the stock can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.
- Make the matzo balls: Add the reinforced stock to a large pot and set it over high heat. Set aside 2 tablespoons of chicken stock for the matzo balls. When the stock begins to simmer, turn the heat down to low. Add the carrots, celery, and shredded chicken. While the carrots and celery are cooking in the stock, make the matzo balls.
- Combine the lightly beaten eggs with the chicken fat. If you stored the chicken fat in the refrigerator and it has congealed, make sure to warm it until it becomes a liquid again before mixing it with the eggs. Add the salt and chicken stock. Add the matzo meal and mix with a rubber spatula until just combined. Add the seltzer and mix to combine. Store this mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Set a large pot of water over high heat until it boils. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. When the matzo mixture has been in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, you can lightly salt the boiling water, shape the matzo mixture into balls that are slightly bigger than a ping pong ball, and add them to the simmering water. Cook the matzo balls for 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer the matzo balls to the chicken soup pot, garnish with fresh dill, and serve.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!