“This is really a country Jewish recipe concocted by my mother, Myrtle Zoller, and our housekeeper, Vinie Williams, to be served at Passover,” recounted Anne Zoller Kiefer [of New Orleans, Louisiana].
Game plan: For a vegetarian version, instead of adding liver or giblets, sauté 2 cups of sliced flavorful mushrooms in the olive oil and use vegetable broth. Ms. Kiefer likes to serve this “yummy, not bland dish” with turkey gravy, but not for her vegetarian daughter.
Note: Recipes in Marcie Cohen Ferris’s book Matzoh Ball Gumbo were compiled from a diverse mix of Jewish Southerners who have blended religion and region through home cooking.
This recipe was featured as part of our Southern Seder menu.
- Yields: 8 to 10 servings (7 cups)
- Total: 1 hr 40 mins
- Active: 40 mins
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (omit if using cooked giblets)
- 1 cup chicken livers (about 6 ounces), trimmed and halved, or finely chopped cooked giblets
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 9 unsalted matzohs, broken up
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter or pareve margarine
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 3 to 4 teaspoons creole seasoning (Anne uses Tony Chachere’s)
- 1/2 cup chicken or turkey broth
- 1 large egg
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously grease a 9 × 9 inch glass baking dish or casserole.
- If using the livers, heat the oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Carefully add the livers and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper. Cook, turning often and scraping the bottom of the pan, until livers are browned but still pink in the center, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl (don’t wash the skillet). Let livers cool slightly and then chop.
- Meanwhile, place the matzohs in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let stand, pressing them down into the water, until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer, pressing out the water and breaking up the matzohs with your hands. Dry the bowl; return matzohs to the bowl.
- In the same skillet, over medium heat, melt all but 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring often, until tender, 8 minutes. Stir in the parsley, creole seasoning, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Scrape the mixture into the matzohs.
- Add the livers or giblets (or mushrooms), broth, and egg and mix well. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter.
- Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until the surface is browned and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Serve hot, with turkey gravy if you like.
From MATZOH BALL GUMBO: CULINARY TALES OF THE JEWISH SOUTH by Marcie Cohen Ferris. Copyright © 2005 by Marcie Cohen Ferris. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.