Loving matzo is a privilege reserved almost exclusively for goyim—that is, non-Jews who have never been obliged to make a big cracker into a "pizza" or otherwise forgo leavened bread for a week each spring during Passover, when bread and other leavened doughs, among other things, are forbidden. (When matzo is your only option, matzo unsurprisingly gets old pretty quickly.) Happily, loving matzo brei is non-denominational. A standard of kosher deli counters, diners, and Passover breakfasts, matzo brei is typically two ingredients—crumbled matzo crackers and beaten eggs—scrambled in melted butter. It's your eggs and kosher-for-Passover toast in one tidy, comforting, rather squishy package. It is delicious.
The seasoning depends on whoever’s eating it. Some lean sweet, sprinkling the mess with cinnamon sugar (yes, on eggs—it’s good and you should try it). Those in my camp like it savory, with lots of salt and pepper, and maybe some hot sauce.
The best part about it, besides the butteriness and egginess and hug-like mushy quality, is the balance of savory and sweet. Between the butter and the salt and the eggs and any sugar you may have added, it all smells a little like kettle corn to me.
Matzo brei is a bit like French toast, a bit like migas (seasoned and soaked stale bread or tortillas) or chilaquiles (stale tortillas or corn chips soaked in salsa)—but primarily eggy. Keep all this in mind when you go about deciding what kind of matzo brei you’re looking to make. Keep in mind, too, that you should adjust the amount of salt up or down to your liking depending on whether or not you’ve bought salted or unsalted matzo.
Photo by Caroline Lange
Basic Matzo Brei
Photo by Caroline Lange
1 sheet of matzo
Splash of milk (or water)
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or margarine)
How to Make It
Break a sheet of matzo into smallish bite-size pieces in a colander set over a bowl to catch any crumbs. Beat the eggs and the milk well in the bowl and set aside. Run the colander of matzo under the sink faucet, soaking the matzo and softening it (but not letting it get mushy). Add the wet matzo and salt to the beaten eggs and toss well to combine.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a frying pan over medium-low heat until melted and foamy. Add the egg-matzo mixture to the frying pan and scramble as you would eggs until the eggs are cooked to your liking, then season with salt and pepper (savory) or cinnamon sugar (sweet) and serve with sour cream and/or applesauce, if you like.
Savory: Highly springy—in the seasonal sense of the word. Add ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest to the egg-matzo mixture, along with lots of freshly cracked black pepper. Let all this sit while you melt the butter and saute a handful of thawed frozen peas in it until brightest green. Add the egg-matzo mixture, scramble per usual, and top with grated pecorino and more pepper. Serve over pea shoots if you have them. (If you’re abstaining from kitniyot, swap the peas and pea shoots for another springy vegetable—asparagus, chopped into 2-inch-or-so lengths, would be a good substitute.)
Sweet: Coconut macaroon-inspired, just a little sweet. Add a ¼ cup of large flaked unsweetened coconut (or 2 heaping tablespoons of finely shredded coconut) to the egg-matzo mixture, along with ¼ teaspoon almond extract and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let all this sit for a moment while the butter melts in the frying pan. If you like, top with toasted coconut flakes.