So, I wasn't hosting a seder this year, but I was planning on providing soup and charoset at one, one which ended up not happening.
Subsequently, I've had a lot of leftover soup and matzah ball mix, and charoset left over.
Soup: I've noted elsewhere: "I have always started with an initial boil of various lengths (Mom called for 2-3 hours), I've varied over the years from that to ~6) that produces something that's never right to begin with - no matter whose meat/water/veg proportions I use.
It's then strained.
It's worth noting that even when I've precisely followed Cooks Illustrated's recipe precisely, this 1st boil has always completely failed to produce something that is like soup to me. I'm... always sort of perplexed by this. Ok, utterly confused."
This year, being the year of the Instant Pot, I decided to start with iPotted stock, via http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2017/04/pressure-cooker-chicken-stock-recipe.html
- modified by adding dill and a parsnip, subtracting the garlic, and taking the celery out after the 1st batch, because it wasn't right.
... and by 1st batch I meant 1st 3 batches. Thanks to kimberlogic
, I had 3 pots to work with, and then did a 2nd run for 6 batches in total, 12Kg chicken, and just about 12q of water. I believe what came out of the 1st boil was something like 12-12.5q of broth, and about 1q of shmaltz. Yes, more stock than water.
... And that stock was... still not right. Tastier than average for my 1st boil, but still not what I want for my end product, or even for a soup I'm ready to eat then. I still don't understand it at all.
As for matzah balls, when I got home from the emergency backup seder I went to on Monday, I boiled up a batch as the seder had been sadly soup-free (but otherwise lovely!) and I wanted some.
They were rocks. They're usually dense, but this was ridiculous. Also, somehow despite all the salt I'd put in, they were nearly salt-free in taste.
Over the next couple of days, I asked everyone with experience for their matzah ball recipe. It seems to be that mom, back when she was giving me the full instructions for her seder experience, halved the amount of fat that goes in to them. I went and added enough extra fat to bring them in line with normal recipes, and more salt.
And then I went and asked if anyone had ever pressure cooked matzah balls. The answer is Of Course They Have, and tamidon
pointed me at http://foodsforlonglife.blogspot.com/2017/03/instant-pot-matzo-ball-soup.html
and so, mindful of the caution pookfreak
had about not overboiling due to the time bringing cold soup to boil, I brought the soup to low pressure and immediately opened it, then added the mix. 15 min high pressure, quick release... voila, they were _excellent_. Ok, still not enough salt, but other than that...
On to the haroset: 1# of Macintosh (4 small) to .5# of Granny Smith (1 large), 1# walnuts, WAY more nutmeg than I usually add, due to an more-aggressive than I'm used to grater, cassia, and wine... worked excellently! MAYBE a bit less nutmeg, or a bit more cinnamon.
And FINALLY! Allison was feeling driven and stripped off all the chicken meat (cardboard as usual, as its been boiled free of ALL its flavor, fat, etc.) so I contacted old family friends for the chicken croquettes recipe that for years was the standard destination for such chicken meat in my childhood. I got that yesterday and haven't yet had a chance to make it - it's just a thick white sauce, mix in the shredded chicken to the right texture, bread (or matzah meal) and fry. I hope to do this soon.
So yeah, despite not actually serving food to people, I've had good progress this year in making everything better for next year. Yay!
(NOW let's see how this wall of text looks when it's cross-dumped to FB. No cut.)