Matzo Brei

PassoverJewishEggMatzo

A classic Jewish breakfast or light meal of matzo, egg and either savory toppings or sweet.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Please welcome Hank Shaw as he shares a Passover treat with us. Hank made the savory version of matzo brei for my parents and me the other day, we loved it! ~Elise

I grew up in a New Jersey town with lots of Jewish people, so I received an early education in things like the Seder, or Purim or Hannukah. I remember this dish as a quick meal my friends’ mothers would make when I came over during Passover. I remember it as “maht-zuh-brai,” with the “brai” rhyming with “try.” I only later learned that it’s spelled matzo brei.

Matzo brei is a Jewish version of a universal breakfast: A bready thing with eggs. It’s sorta like huevos rancheros, or leftover dumplings and eggs. It is ridiculously simple, with as many incarnations as there are cooks.

Some like their matzo, which is an unleavened flatbread, heavily soaked in water or milk. Some don’t soak their matzo at all. A typical ratio of matzo to egg is 1:1, which is what we use here, but I’ve seen two matzo sheets to one egg as well as the reverse.

One Sheet of Matzo

One Sheet of Matzo

Then there is the question: Savory or sweet?

Savory matzo brei is really best cooked in schmaltz, rendered chicken fat. No other cooking fat comes close to being as good, except maybe duck fat. But vegetable oil is commonly used, as is butter — so long as the butter is kosher if you are keeping kosher.

Butter is the best fat for sweet matzo brei, which is most often served with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, apple sauce or jam or preserves. I added a bit of orange flower water to the recipe for a bit of extra oomph, but you could skip it if you want.

Ever eaten matzo brei? If so, how is yours different from ours?

Matzo Brei Recipe

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Traditional matzo is what we use here, but you could also use whole wheat, or even gluten-free matzo, and this will still work. Do not use egg matzo, as it is too soft. And some places sell a thicker type of handmade matzo, often from a special flour called shmura. It's fine to use, but you will need to soak it longer.

Ingredients

Savory Matzo Brei

    • 4 Tbsp chicken fat or vegetable oil, divided
    • 1 medium onion, sliced
    • Pinch of sugar
    • 4 large eggs
    • 4 sheets of matzo
    • Salt and black pepper
    • Chives or parsley for garnish

Sweet Matzo Brei

    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 cup milk, plus 2 Tbsp
    • Pinch of salt
    • Pinch of sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon orange flower water (optional)
    • 4 sheets matzo
    • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
    • Cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar or apple sauce for garnish

Method

Savory Matzo Brei

1 Caramelize the onions: For the savory matzo brei, you will need to caramelize the onions first. Heat 2 tablespoons of the chicken fat or oil in a sauté pan and gently cook the onions until soft and caramelized. Let them cook at medium heat for a few minutes, then sprinkle a little salt and a little sugar over them. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low. Stir occasionally. This should take 15-20 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel.

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2 Soften the matzo: Soften the matzo a little by running them under cold water for a minute or so. The longer you wet them down, the softer they will be; it's your choice.

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3 Break up matzo and stir with beaten eggs and caramelized onions: Beat the eggs with a little salt and black pepper in a large bowl.  Break the matzo up into pieces of about 1/2 to 1 inch into the bowl with the eggs. Stir in the caramelized onions and mix well.

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4 Cook in chicken fat: Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of chicken fat in the sauté pan over medium-high heat. Let this heat up for a minute or two, then pour in the matzo-egg mixture. Cook this, moving it around constantly, until the eggs are just barely set — you want them to be a little bit runny. This should take about 90 seconds or so. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley or chives.

matzo-brei-6.jpg matzo-brei-7.jpg

Sweet Matzo Brei

1 Beat the eggs, 2 tablespoons milk, the salt, sugar and orange flower water (if using) in a large bowl.

2 Crush matzo and soak in milk: In another bowl, crush the matzo into 1/2 to 1inch pieces. Add the cup of milk and mix well. Let this stand at least 30 seconds — the longer the matzo sits in the milk, the softer it will become. I like to let it stand 2 minutes.

3 Mix soaked matzo with eggs: When you're ready, move the soaked matzo from the milk bowl into the bowl with the eggs. Mix well to combine.

4 Cook in butter: Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Let it heat up for a minute or two before adding the matzo-egg mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the eggs are just barely set, about 90 seconds. Serve garnished with cinnamon sugar, apple sauce or something else sweet; jams and preserves are a good choice.

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Links:

Lemon Ricotta Matzo Brei - from No Recipes

Matzo Brei with Bananas and Pecans - from The Kitchn

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Sweet matzo brei

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Hank Shaw

A former restaurant cook and journalist, Hank Shaw is the author of three wild game cookbooks as well as the James Beard Award-winning wild foods website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His latest cookbook is Buck, Buck, Moose, a guide to working with venison. He hunts, fishes, forages and cooks near Sacramento, CA.

More from Hank

29 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Carole

    My mom let the eggs and matzoh sit in the pan until mostly cooked and the flipped them over to finish cooking.
    And if you’re using gluten-free matzoh, add an extra to the recipe for a better matzoh to egg ratio.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Steve

    “Shmura matzah” is an artisinal matzah made entirely by hand under strict rabbinic supervision, and not matzah made from a particular type of flour. Before the invention of machines to make matzah, all matzah was made this way. Many in the Orthodox Jewish community do not accept the idea that machine made matzah could be “kosher for Passover”, meaning that macine made matzah does not pass muster for the particular rules of food for Passover.

  3. AnnieM

    Just wanted to comment that matsah brei, as you heard growing up, is also correct. Spelling depends on being Sephardic vs. Ashkenazic. Or something like that–what do I know, I’m not Jewish ;-)

  4. m

    i grew up eating the world’s simplest matzo brei recipe. 2 eggs, 1 sheet of matzo. heat skillet, add butter to melt. run matzo under running water for 30 seconds, break into pieces into skillet, fry in butter for a minute or two, add scrambled eggs to skillet. stir until set to desired consistence. salt. done. yum.

  5. Bob

    I add tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, cheese, in huge pan so there are plenty of leftovers. Thanks for posting the recipe!

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