When Passover rolls around each spring, I'm always kind of shocked by how excited matzo makes me, and everyone around me. I mean, it's not supposed to make you excited. We Jews are supposed to eat these dry, flat, crackery squares in recognition of the hardship faced by our forebears as they fled persecution in Egypt. My god, they didn't have time to let their bread rise! That's SAD! But we in this house get all giddy about matzo. Please keep this fact quiet.
I have to time exactly when to make the first matzo brei of the year, because once I make it for breakfast, all I hear all day long for the next 7 days, and beyond (because I always buy too much matzo), is "Thanks for making matzo brei again!" And I'm like, "Uh, I don't think I'm making it again. I just made it yesterday." And they're like, "Yes, you will! Thanks for making it again!" And so I make it again.
For the uninitiated, matzo brei, at least the way I make it, is kind of like French toast -- sort of -- but with matzo instead of bread. You wet the matzo, then mix it with egg, and then skillet it like a big pancake. Then you flip it and pray that it won't land on the floor (5 second rule!) and then cook the other side. Then you go to town with the butter and syrup, all the while trying not to get so excited that you forget that you're supposed to be sort of sad that it's not fluffy.
But we're never sad. We're never sad at all.
Recipe for Matzo Brei
I have no idea if this is authentic matzo brei by any means, but this is the way my mother taught me to make it, so this is the recipe I'll share. Even if you don't celebrate Passover, I encourage you to grab a few boxes of matzo from the grocery store while it's plentiful and squirrel them away for future matzo brei extravaganzas. Is this simply a vehicle for butter and syrup? So what if it is?
Serves 2 to 3
3 squares plain matzo (not egg matzo, which is too tender)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Butter and syrup, for serving
In a large bowl, break the matzos into a medium, irregular chunks. Don't make them too tiny and dusty, but don't make them too big either. About the size of half a randomly broken Triscuit is a very general guideline, but trust me, it really doesn't matter.
Cover the matzo with tepid tap water. Let stand while you grab your egg, a nonstick 8-1/2" skillet, some cooking spray, butter and syrup.
Spray the skillet, then set it over medium-low heat. While it warms, hold your hand over the bowl, and gradually tip the water out into the sink. Use your hand to stop the matzo from tumbling down the drain or into last night's dirty dishes. Get out as much water as you can. The matzo should be moist, but definitely not soggy. Stir in the beaten egg, and turn a few times to coat the matzo pieces evenly.
Transfer to the skillet, pressing down firmly with a heatproof spatula so the mixture is like one big pancake. Cook, partly covered, for 5 minutes, or until the underside is nearly dry. Carefully run a knife along the perimeter to loosen, then use a large plate or pot lid to flip the matzo over, sliding it back into the skillet cooked-side-up. Cook the second side another few minutes, until crisp and slightly browned. Make sure the whole brei (or whatever it is) is cooked through and not wet. Wet = not good. Crisp on the outside and just a little moist inside = good.
Cut matzo brei into wedges and serve with butter and syrup.