On the surface, I might not seem like a very competitive person. In fact, I didn’t realize I was competitive until I grew up. As a kid (and still) I eschewed any and all kinds of groups sports. There was no sense in me trying to kick a ball the farthest, make the most baskets, or run the bases the fastest, because truth be told, I would only win if the point was to fail.
In the classroom it was a different story. It was always a given that I was at the top, but it came so naturally to me that I never felt like I was trying to compete. In college, people started to catch up. Or maybe I was just in a smaller group of my own league. In fact, it was the first time where I really felt I had to work to stand out – or at least not fall behind. But still, I didn’t feel like I was competing with others so much as with myself, battling to keep up with the reputation I had created.
I’ll stop bragging now and just say that I feel much of that self-competitive nature carrying over into my cooking and blogging. I know I’ll never be the most original cook or the best photographer or the wittiest writer, but as long as what I’m doing is better than what I did before, I’m feeling pretty good.
Those familiar with Passover know the four questions, and this year I asked myself a fifth: What can I do with matzoh balls that I’ve never done before? Honestly, the doors were wide open. I’ve never made anything but plain ol’ matzoh balls in chicken soup. No one around here is complaining about that, but I knew I could do more. And so in my quest to do something fun and unusual this Passover, I decided to stuff my matzoh balls. Even more crazy, I decided that they didn’t need any soup. In addition to being competitive, I’m also pretty weird. I’m sure that’s what my parents and brothers would say if I told them I was taking the balls out of the soup and stuffing them.
Apparently it wasn’t an entirely original idea (thank you very much, Google.) But you know what was? Picadillo stuffed matzoh balls. Yep, I’m pretty sure no one else has done that. And if they have, it’s not on the internet so it doesn’t count.
So why the heck would you take a perfectly good matzoh ball and stuff it with a Cuban-spiced meat mixture laced with briney olves and sweet raisins? Simple. It’s good! I’ll admit to a little suspicion about whether this would actually work and briefly considered the need for a back-up dinner plan, but couldn’t be bothered. I guess I’d rather starve than think about what I’d do if I failed. In the end, though, no one was left hungry. This whole idea for picadillo stuffed matzoh balls (really, who does that?) worked really well. They were easier to assemble than I figured, and did not burst open while simmering like I imagined. Besides being stuffed, there’s another big difference between these matzoh balls and the ones you’re used to: they’re baked! I know, I know. Some of you may have a hard time wrapping your heads around the idea of a baked matzoh ball. But trust me here. The baked matzoh balls turn out rich and dense, almost dough-like, a perfect envelope for the sweet and spicy filling. We served these with some (jarred) sofrito sauce for a light dinner, but they’d also make a really fun first course for your holiday meal. I just might do that myself – just to see if anyone really misses the soup.
Picadillo Stuffed Matzoh Balls
Picadillo, Eating Well
The ingredient amounts below represent half of the original recipe. You will use about 1/4 of this to stuff the matzoh balls.
1 pound lean ground turkey breast
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped scallions, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped pitted green olives
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup water
freshly ground pepper
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the ground turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Reduce the meat to medium and add the olive oil. Cook the onions, scallions and garlic for about 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add the chili powder, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper; cook for one minute more, until fragrant.
Return the turkey to the pan along with the raisins, olives, tomato paste, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened. Season to taste with the ground pepper, and set aside to cool. The filling can be made a day or two before you plan to assemble the matzoh balls.
3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
3 tablespoons chicken broth
3/4 cup matzoh meal
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground pepper
cinnamon, for dusting
Whisk together the eggs, oil, and chicken broth. Stir in the matzoh meal, salt, and pepper. Set the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Line a plate or baking sheet with a piece of plastic wrap, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Scoop the matzoh ball mixture into 12 equal portions. Wet your hands and take one portion. Flatten it slightly and press in a small indentation. Place one teaspoon of the picadillo into the indentation, then carefully roll the matzoh ball mixture around the filling. Set aside on the plastic-lined sheet. Repeat with remaining matzoh balls, wetting hands between each one.
The stuffed matzoh balls may be covered and refrigerated overnight.
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the matzoh balls to the boiling water. Cover the pot and cook for 20-25 minutes. The matzoh balls will increase in size.
Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Remove matzoh balls from the water with a slotted spoon and place in the dish. Spray matzoh balls with a little more coking spray, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.
These reheat well, so you can bake them a day ahead of time and place them back in the oven to warm before serving.
Servings Per Recipe: 12
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 5.1 g
Cholesterol: 48.2 mg
Sodium: 52.3 mg
Total Carbs: 8.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
Protein: 3.6 g
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