Before we go any further, you should know a couple of things about matzoh brei:
1) It doesn’t need to be Passover for you to cook it (or to find matzoh!);
2) Everybody makes it a little differently (including Claire!); and
3) It’s tasty, filling, and absurdly easy to cook.
The recipe below and the process I’ll describe will help you make matzoh brei the way my lovely mother makes it…which may not be quite the way you’ve had it before, but is definitely worth doing. I particularly recommend this recipe to people who, like me, are totally %$^&ing helpless in a kitchen and whose culinary attempts result in things like fires and irreconcilable interpersonal strife. If you have two left spatulas, give this a shot—you won’t mess it up. Probably.
All matzoh brei basically involves mixing eggs and matzoh. (Seasonings differ—Claire notes that evidently people eat this stuff sweet, although I’ve only ever had it with savory flavors (garlic, onion, salt and pepper), and that’s probably how I’ll keep it.) This recipe differs from others I’ve seen in one crucial way: The egg-to-matzoh ratio.
When most people think of matzoh brei, they think of something that’s basically an egg scramble/omlette with bits of matzoh inside. The egg-to-matzoh ratio is quite high. The recipe below has a much lower egg-to-matzoh ratio, the result of which is a thicker, chewier, eggy-matzoh-pancake-type-thing (although I feel like using the word “pancake” is blasphemous…it just feels so WASPy, you know?).
I don’t know for whom I’m more excited right now, people who’ve never had matzoh brei before or people who’ve only had the egg scramble/omlette kind. Either way, you’re in for a treat…and if I’m in the neighborhood and you tell me you’re cooking this, a houseguest.
Matzoh Brei (for 3-5 people, depending on appetites)
1-1½ cups of hot water
½ teaspoon minced garlic*
½ teaspoon minced onion*
7-9 pieces of matzoh
Some salt and pepper
Butter and/or olive oil for the fryin’
*I recommend dried; more on that below.
Pour the hot water into a large bowl. Add the minced garlic and onion to the water and stir a bit. Break the matzoh into small (about an inch square) pieces over the bowl.
Stir well, so the matzoh soaks up the water (and, with it, the flavor from the garlic and onion). At this point the matzoh won’t be soaked/soggy, which is good—you don’t want it quite there. Beat the eggs well, then pour them over the top of the matzoh and mix well. Add a solid shaking of salt and a bit of pepper, and stir some more.
The result should be a kind of gloppy, yellowish matzoh mixture that sticks to the spoon and the sides of the bowl. If the mixture seems to have some excess liquid, add another piece of matzoh and mix some more. If you’ve got some matzoh that’s still dry, beat another egg and pour a bit more of it in, then mix some more. The matzoh mixture is never going to be completely homogenous, of course, but the closer you can get the easier it is to fry.
Oh yeah! We’re frying this stuff. Heat a pan (low to medium heat) and throw some butter and/or oil in there. And/or may seem surprising, but I’ve seen the two used in concert and the result is, unsurprisingly, pretty grand. If you have to pick one, I’d say use butter, but you really can’t lose either way.
Anyway, once your pan’s oiled up and good to go, put the matzoh mixture into the pan, spreading it to about ½-1 inch thick. When the bottom gets golden brown, flip it over and fry the other side. (You’ll have to break it up to flip it, which is cool–you’ll wind up chopping the thing eventually anyhow.) If you find it’s getting too charred-looking on the bottom, turn down the heat, add more butter/oil, or both. When both sides are golden brown—after maybe 10 minutes or so—and the thickest areas are cooked through, start eating.
Unless you start eating before then. Which I do.
Some (my father) like their matzoh brei a little on the crispier side and more broken up; others (this guy) prefer it a little thicker and clumpier. You can vary the consistency of the final product both by how small you break the matzoh during the initial phase or by how much you break up the eggy-matzoh-pancake-(oy)-type-thing while you’re frying. Either way, you can’t lose.
On final ingrediental note: When I first sent this recipe to the Party Leaders, they assumed that by “minced” I meant “fresh and finely chopped.” While I’m sure fresh garlic and onion would work just fine in this recipe, I’d recommend the dried versions of these ingredients—which you can find in the spice section of most groceries—because dried flecks of onion and garlic will dissolve their flavor more readily into the water you use at the beginning and will then soak into all of the matzoh as you stir. (Incidentally, you can also use garlic matzoh instead of regular matzoh, which just changes the final flavor a bit.)
If any of the language above seems imprecise, that’s because it is. Cooking in general–and cooking Jewish in particular–seems to involve the complete inability to describe exactly what you’re doing or how to do it.
More or less.