Antonis Achilleos
Active Time
15 MIN
Total Time
1 HR 5 MIN
Yield
Serves : 4

“Why are you making fried cardboard?” my first husband asked the first time he watched me make matzo brei. He had never before encountered this classic Jewish dish. Then he tasted it, his eyes went wide, and he asked for more.

I have never known anyone who could resist it; even my son, the world’s pickiest eater at the age of two, was in love with it. As for me, if I could eat only one food for the rest of my life it would be this remarkably simple dish in which a few basic ingredients are magically transformed into something comforting and compelling.

Rumors are floating about that there are people who like their matzo brei sweet. This, of course, is an abomination: Matzo brei should never mix with sugar. While I tend to be a purist—nothing but matzos, eggs, butter, and salt—I occasionally add caramelized onions which, in my opinion, make almost everything taste better.

And now, on to my matzo brei rules:

1. Do not use those fancy new handmade matzos. Store-bought is fine.

2. Caramelize the onions slowly and for a very long time. You want them to be on the dark side.

3. Good butter is the secret to great matzo brei.

4. When in doubt, use more.

5. Break the matzos into a strainer set over a bowl so you catch all the tiny crumbs. They make the texture more interesting.

6. Don’t get your matzos so wet they go limp.

7. Some people cook their matzo brei in one piece, as if it were an omelet. Don’t. One of the great things about this dish is the textural variation: Some bits are fluffy as clouds, others crisp enough to crackle.

8. Do not use a nonstick pan because it will prevent you from achieving the results in rule 7.

9. This recipe serves 4, but the proportions are 1 egg and 1 matzo per person, so adjust to your needs.

10. Say the word right: “brei” rhymes with “fry.”

How to Make It

Step 1    

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet (not nonstick) over medium. Add sliced onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 8 minutes. (If you insist, you can use oil instead of butter to cook the onions.) Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are fragrant and brown, about 45 minutes. (Watch carefully to keep onions from burning.) If the onions start to stick, add 1 tablespoon of water from time to time and allow it to evaporate.

Step 2    

Break matzos into a strainer or colander until pieces are fairly small (about 1 inch); discard any crumbs that fall through strainer. (If you’re cooking with a child, let them do this; smashing things up is very satisfying work.) Briefly run matzo pieces under running tap water until just moistened; transfer to a medium bowl. Add eggs and caramelized onions, and mix thoroughly.

Step 3    

Wipe skillet clean, and melt remaining 1/4 cup butter over medium-high. When butter is sizzling, add matzo mixture and sprinkle with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until eggs are set and you have some golden crisp bits, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve to 4 very happy people.

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