matzo brei, for when you're done with matzo balls
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Growing up, my dad cooked often, but I’d consider only a few things ICONIC Dan Roman dishes. There was Hard-Shell Taco Night (he’d individually fry each corn tortilla then drape it over a dishwasher rack to let the shell harden into a taco shape, whatta move!), Grilled Things Night (if you can grill it, Dan Roman will grill it) and Matzo Brei Morning (our personal favorite). Matzo Brei, if you are unfamiliar, is a breakfast dish made from matzo and eggs.
It can be sweet or savory, made like a pancake or a scramble, be dry and crispy or wet and soft. As a public dissenter of wet and soft foods, you may guess I’d favor the dry and crispy version but I am full of surprises.
When I say this is my “favorite thing” I really do mean it. Did I say that about matzo ball soup last week? Maybe. Do both contain matzo? Yes. Let me have this.
I didn’t know the “other” (sweet, pancake) version of matzo brei existed till about 2013 and I haven’t thought about it since. This one (savory, scramble) is made of fried onions with just enough egg to bind them to the delicately soaked matzo and scrambled until just set. It’s got a lot of butter and I like to eat mine with sour cream (full-fat Greek yogurt is fine, sour cream is better), but feel free to dress it like a latke, which means it’s also great with things like applesauce, lox or salmon roe.
My dad has never even considered sprinkling his with dill or chives, but as the heir to his matzo brei throne it is my duty to add both (optional, though). Be sure to season it with lots of black pepper— it really goes the distance here.
I’d say the two most important steps to success here are properly frying the onions (till frizzled and fried around the edges, tender the whole way through) and adequately soaking the matzo (the matzo should feel like it’s soaked but not soggy, pliable but with some integrity left). Do both of these things correctly and you, too, will fall in love with matzo brei and make Dan Roman proud.
2 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed, canola or vegetable
1 large onion, thinly sliced
kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
4 lightly salted matzo boards
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
finely chopped chives, scallions and/or dill, for serving (optional)
sour cream or full fat greek yogurt, for serving (optional)
1. Heat oil in a medium/large non-stick skillet (regular stainless steel skillet works fine, too). Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally until the onions are completely tender with a deep, dark brown color and fried and frizzled edges, 8–10 minutes. Taste them along the way and make sure they’re salty and peppery enough.
2. Once the onions are where you want them to be, whisk your eggs in a large bowl just like you’re making a scramble; season with salt and pepper.
3. Break up the matzo into quarters (if they break up further that’s fine) and place in a large bowl. Cover with hot water (I use tap water) and let them soak for 60–90 seconds. They should feel pliable and soft without feeling soggy— like they were caught in the rain, not drowned in the ocean.
4. With your hands, remove matzo from the water and squeeze out any extra water. Add to the scrambled eggs and using a spatula, fold them in. Let them sit a minute or two to get that matzo intimate with those eggs.
5. Season egg/matzo mixture with salt and pepper and add to the fried onions along with the 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook over medium heat until the eggs just start to scramble and set, about a minute (this happens very fast; try not to over scramble or the matzo brei could be dry).
6. Remove from heat and finish with flaky salt and more pepper, shower with dill and chives if you’ve got ‘em. Serve with sour cream (or whatever you like).
DO AHEAD: This is a pretty last-minute thing with everything coming together so quickly, but speaking from experience, eating this cold the next day is still a fantastic experience.