Matzah brei is one of those things, like Proust’s Madeline cookie or Citizen Kane’s snow globes, that brings back a flood of memories. For me, it’s the smell of peppery sweetness and the exact pattern of our white and black checked kitchen floor, not a lifetime of affliction.
Every Jewish family has their way of doing matzah brei. For some, it’s tiny pieces with lots of egg. Some eat it plain and some with syrup or jam. In my house, it was large chucks, on the dry side, with maple syrup and butter. Matzah brei (pronounced mat-za br-eye) is just leftover matzah soaked in egg and fried with butter. You don’t have to be Jewish or even observe passover to enjoy it. All you need to know is how to scramble eggs. There are many kinds of matzah, from the fresh out of the oven sacred schmura matzah to the store-bought Streitzs. Manischewitz is a trusted brand but I could only find Streitz’s egg matzah. Actually not my favorite, but use whatever you have on hand.
Basic Matzah Brei
You will need:
3 squares of matzah
3 large eggs
freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons maple syrup (I’m a fan of Mrs. Butterworth’s for this one)*.
1. “Wash” each sheet of matzah by running it under warm water gently for about 1 minute. It should soften ever so slightly. Break into 2-inch pieces and smaller with your hands and set aside on a plate.
2. Beat the eggs with a fork in a small bowl and add the salt and 5 generous grinds of pepper. Fold in the matzah and any crumbs.
3. In a non-stick skillet, heat 1/2 the butter over medium-high heat. Add the matzah and egg mixture and cook for 1 minute, gently fold it over with a spatula so it’s cooked and slightly crispy. When it’s just about done (3-4 minutes total), add the rest of the butter and gently combine. Serve with additional pepper and maple syrup.
* I don’t think Mrs. Butterworth was Jewish….