Matzoh ball throwdown
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Matzoh ball throwdown

Fans of celebrity chef Bobby Flay are familiar with his “Throwdown With Bobby Flay” show on Food Network, during which he goes around to top chefs in certain cuisines and challenges them to their specialties. Sometimes he wins, sometimes he loses. Almost every time he take a crash course on the dish he’s about to make before the challenge.

Well, on Wednesday, Flay throws down with Jeff Nathan, head chef and owner of Abigael’s in New York. The challenge? Matzoh ball soup.

Disclaimer: I have never eaten at Abigael’s, let alone tried Nathan’s soup. Nor have I ever eaten at Flay’s restaurant. Having said that, I have yet to meet a matzoh ball to rival my mother’s.

I admit, I’ve been watching Flay’s throwdowns with increased interest lately. It began a few weeks ago on a Saturday night when I found myself with nothing to do after Shabbat. So I turned on Food Network. The challenge was dumplings. The episode actually inspired me to go out and get the ingredients to make my own dumplings – which came out pretty tasty but it was a process I found to be time-consuming and tedious. I’ve also gotten some tips on making sushi and deep-dish pizza.

So I’m very interested to see this week’s episode. In particular, I’m wondering if Flay will limit himself to only kosher ingredients. It would seem to be unfair if he used any old trayfe ingredients he wanted while Nathan stuck with kosher (granted, the ingredients of a matzoh ball are difficult to find without kosher certification, but Flay likes to add his own twist on the recipes so who knows what he might add). Also, chicken soup, if made from scratch, takes several hours (and in the case of my mother’s, two days) to cook. Matzoh balls need to partially cook in the chicken soup to get some flavor, so a big question is whether the chefs will be able to use pre-made chicken soup or have to make their own along with the kneidlach.

To paraphrase one of the Iron Chef commentators (the original version, not Iron Chef America): “Who’s cuisine will reign supreme?”

The episode airs on Food Network at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.

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