March 25, 2009
One-Pot Passover Dinner: Just the Recipe to Cut Costs
During these difficult times, whether you are trying to make Passover a little less costly this year or looking for a way to spend less time in the kitchen, there’s a simple solution: a one-pot Passover dinner.
All the traditional Passover ceremonial foods remain the same: charoset, salty egg soup, bitter herbs and matzah. The only change is that the chicken soup and roast chicken, although served in two courses, will be cooked in the same pot.
We have family and friends over on both nights of Passover, so I make a lot of chicken soup. When people ask how to make the soup more flavorful, my answer is simple: Put more chicken in the pot.
I have two large pots to make the soup the day before Passover, and six whole, trussed chickens go into the water right after the vegetables. To inexpensively give the soup even more flavor, buy extra giblets, place them on a length of cheesecloth and tie the package closed with string before adding them to the soup. This way, they will not become lost in the soup, and you can serve the giblets during dinner.
Bring the soup to a boil and simmer until the chickens are almost falling apart, then carefully transfer them to a roaster with a vegetable tomato-rosemary sauce. Cover and bake. No one will ever guess that the chickens were boiled, because the new flavors take over.
Matzah balls are made the day of the seder, and with two pots of soup available, you won’t need to crowd them. If there are any leftovers, they taste just as good the following day.
To go with the roast chicken, prepare a vegetable stuffing the day before and spoon it into a casserole to bake.
Having spent less effort in the kitchen, you will now have time to make an easy but fabulous dessert. Just double the recipe for the charoset, roll into balls and cover with melted bittersweet chocolate. Allow the Charoset Truffles to cool and harden in the refrigerator and serve them at the end of the meal.
Judy’s Passover Chicken Soup
In a large, heavy Dutch oven or pot, place trussed chickens, necks and gizzards, onions, leek, carrots, celery, parsnips and enough water to cover. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Using a large spoon, skim off the scum that rises to the top. Cover, leaving the lid ajar, reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Uncover and simmer 30 minutes longer.
With two large (slotted) spoons, carefully remove the chickens from the soup and transfer to a large platter. Let soup cool to room temperature, then chill. Skim off fat that hardens on the surface and discard.
Makes 12 servings.
The Fluffiest Matzah Balls
I’ve been tweaking this matzah ball recipe over the years, and I’m now satisfied that it produces the lightest matzah balls you’ve ever tasted. If you don’t want to take the time to make them, boil some Passover noodles and add to the soup instead.
Place egg yolks in a measuring cup and add enough water or chicken stock to fill one cup. Beat with a fork until well blended. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks; do not overbeat. In a small bowl, combine matzah meal with salt and pepper. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the yolk mixture alternately with the matzah mixture into beaten egg whites. Use only enough matzah to make a light, soft dough. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let firm up for five minutes.
Bring soup to a slow boil and using a large spoon, gently drop in matzah balls. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes (do not uncover during this cooking time).
Makes 12 servings.
In a large roaster, heat oil and sauté onions, carrots, celery and garlic until soft. Add tomatoes with juice and wine and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper.
Arrange boiled chickens in the sauce, baste and top with sprigs of rosemary. Cover and bake in the oven until ready to serve and the sauce thickens. Transfer to a large serving platter and let guests help themselves.
Makes 24 servings.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a large, heavy skillet heat the oil and sauté onions and garlic until transparent. Add celery, carrots, parsnip, zucchini and toss and sauté for five minutes until vegetables soften. Add parsley, raisins and mix thoroughly. Simmer five minutes.
Blend in matzah meal, matzah cake meal, Passover potato starch, add wine and mix well. Add additional dry ingredients, a tablespoon at a time, until stuffing is a soft texture and not dry. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Brush a baking dish with oil and spoon in stuffing. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Makes 12 servings.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the knife blade, blend the dates, figs, ginger, coriander, chili pepper, matzah meal and wine. Mix in sesame seeds and transfer to a glass bowl. Roll into one-inch balls or serve in a bowl.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups or 12 balls.
Dessert Variation: Dip charoset balls into melted chocolate and place on wax paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate.
Judy Zeidler is the author of “The Gourmet Jewish Cook” (Morrow, 1988) and “The International Deli Cookbook (Chronicle, 1994). “Judy’s Kitchen” appears on Jewish Life Television. Her Web site is www.judyzeidler.com.