Considering notable inventions include bagels and challah, matzo is a definite ugly stepsibling, as far as Jewish bread products go. And while the leaven-less crackers ghost shortly after Passover, observant Jews are resigned to living on them over the course of eight straight days. So once you’ve covered your bases with typical riffs like matzo brei, matzo pizza and matzo ball soup, get over the mid-holiday hump with a few inspired ideas from Brooklyn’s cabal of Jewish-ish chefs.
Aaron Israel (Shalom Japan)
The “authentically inauthentic” Jewish and Japanese eatery’s answer for making over matzo? Tucking it into savory brei with cheddar, bacon and ham (that’s pastrami and turkey bacon for you) or pounding it into breadcrumbs for coating and pan-frying sweetbreads. Their top secret to legitimately palatable matzo, however, is baking it off themselves, by laying dough on a pizza stone and cranking their oven as high as it will go.
Ashley Berman (Frankel’s Delicatessen)
Take a cue from the chef’s mom by making a batch of Trashy Toffee Matzo, parchment-lined sheet trays lined with molten butter and sugar-flooded matzo pieces, baked at 350 for 10 minutes, layered with chocolate chips while screaming hot, and finished with sea salt, nuts or sprinkles.
Noah Arenstein (El Atoradero)
While his restaurant generates scores of tasty items out of tortillas, enticingly transforming matzo is a trickier pursuit. Still, Arenstein’s developed a clever method to use in his home kitchen: molding matzo meal into a tight, thick crust for gefilte filet-o-fish.
Ashley Albert (The Matzo Project)
The Royal Palms owner has forged a second career out of making matzo edible, which is why her “surprisingly delicious” unleavened chips require blessedly little embellishment. Try the cinnamon sugar version folded into sweet matzo brei, make “matchos” based with salted crisps, and top seed-speckled “everything” with lox and cream cheese.
Peter Shelsky (Shelsky’s of Brooklyn)
When appetizing offerings are as plentiful as at Shelsky’s (think Door County whitefish, Ruby Red Wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, and smoked bluefish salad with fennel, orange and hazelnuts) even the beloved bagel acts as a mere conveyance. And if latkes can be used to cradle duck fat-laced chopped liver (as in the infamous Dr. Goldstein Special) why not housemade planks of matzo?
Tony Bacon (Mile End)
Thank the Montreal-based chef for getting his Mile End compatriots aboard the matzo taco train, imparting his idea for flash-frying flatbread into puffy tortillas of sorts, filled with brisket, corned beef or chopped liver and gribenes.