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Would you use butter in place of schmaltz in matzo balls?

I didn't have any chicken fat for some matzo balls today so I use duck fat and the balls just didn't taste right. I was thinking of trying butter? I would also be most appreciative of hearing tips for keeping the balls light and fluffy.

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  1. My mother used to substitute mayonnaise if out of schmaltz when she made chopped liver. Not sure if she ever tried that for kneidels.

    1. I use grape seed oil.
      Don't over handle.
      Use seltzer

      1 Reply
      1. re: magiesmom

        appreciate that tip about the fizzy water.
        makes sense. thanks.

      2. I've done it, though it seems that clarified butter or ghee works better as a schmaltz substitute than plain butter.

        My favorite substitution though (in the rare instances where I don't have some rendered chicken fat in the fridge) is definitely pork fat. It makes a very nice matzo ball.
        I agree that seltzer can help make the results fluffy. Baking powder works _really_ great, but not if you use too much of it.

        6 Replies
        1. re: The Professor

          But not good for Passover, in most instances.

          1. re: The Professor

            Pork fat...??? I thought that was largely frowned upon in jewish cooking...

            1. re: Ttrockwood

              LOL. yes...It would certainly be _sternly_ frowned upon by strictly observant Jews.

              Ironically enough however, I first got the pork fat/matzohball idea from a Jewish friend who is (obviously) not strictly observant.

              I have no issue with it of course since I'm not Jewish myself (except maybe deep in my ancestry).
              But growing up I was exposed to many ethnic cuisines and as a result, developed quite a liking for a lot of the traditional Jewish foods that my mom's strictly observant friends prepared.

              I guess my liberally Jewish friend's version would come under the category of "fusion". ;-)

              In any case, for anyone who doesn't have a problem consuming pork products, it's definitely worth trying. It really does make a top notch Matzoh Ball.
              And certainly a LOT healthier than using commercial schmaltz substitutes like "Nyafat".

              1. re: The Professor

                Schmaltz is pretty easy to come by. All you need is a chicken.

                1. re: magiesmom

                  you can also often find it in a butcher shop, certainly a kosher one

            2. re: The Professor

              I've used clarified butter and regular butter and you are right, the clarified works better. I also sometimes add some fresh grated romano cheese.

              Also, I like using bacon fat occasionally.

              I'm not Jewish or kosher... but grew up in an area with a large Jewish population, most were non-observant / not kosher.

            3. all I know is I copied the recipe on tv from Ron Ben Israel and his calls for schmaltz.
              still haven't tried his matzo balls yet though.

              1. Matzo balls are used in chicken soup. Kosher rules forbid mixing dairy with meat. No butter in the balls!

                1. a) Not if you need to keep kosher or want to be traditional

                  b) Not all matzah ball recipes call for the addition of any fat whatsoever beyond what is already found in the eggs. No need to add any type of fat, if you don't want to.

                  c) The best way to keep the balls fluffy is to handle them as little as possible. No need for baking powder, seltzer, or magic incantations. Just be gentle.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: rockycat

                    I beg to differ. Seltzer is a great addition.

                    1. re: magiesmom

                      I've never used seltzer, never had a sinker. Ever. YMMV.

                      1. re: rockycat

                        I always use seltzer and never had a sinker. I think the quality of the matzah meal used would have a great impact on the buoyancy of the balls. but my bubby used seltzer in her balls, my mom uses seltzer in her balls, so i use seltzer in my balls.

                        1. re: ahuva

                          I do agree about the matzah meal itself. The only time I've noticed any difference in my results is when I was forced to change brands of matzah meal. I would suggest that when you find a brand that gives the results you like, stick with it.

                          1. re: rockycat

                            what brand please? I didn't know there'd be a difference and never looked to see if there are brands that differ.

                            1. re: iL Divo

                              I never thought about it at all until last year when I ran out of matzah meal at the last minute, ran out to the closest store and grabbed what I could find, and went back home. My matzah balls were just not quite the same, denser than usual and just...different. I couldn't figure out what I had done "wrong" after all these years until it was pointed out to me that I usually use Manischewitz but that day I had used Striet's. I'm not particularly brand loyal, I just live in an area where you take whatever kosher food you can find. We frequently don't have a choice of brands.

                              As a control I made another batch with Manischewitz and they tasted the same as my usual recipe. The Streit's got relegated to be used only as breading and the Mani for the matzah balls. I'm not advocating the use of any particular brand. This was just my experience and it seems my family notices a difference and likes my recipe better when made with Mani. It doesn't really make sense to me, either, but who am I to argue?

                          2. re: ahuva

                            Man oh man!..you have quite a lineage of balls!

                          3. re: rockycat

                            I never had sinkers either, but the seltzer improves the texture.
                            If you try it you'll see