Cooking

One More Brei

Two takes on matzo brei, one savory, one sweet
The beauty of matzo brei: You can go savory or sweet, like this roasted apple version from Eli Sussman of New York City's Mile End.
Cinnamon Sugar Matzo Brei, a Vegetarian Passover dish, from Eli Sussman of Mile End in New York City

Next Monday marks the beginning of the Passover holiday and with it the return of the riddle Jews everywhere have grappled with since time immemorial: What to do with all that matzo?

Our vote: matzo brei.

For the uninitiated, a brei involves crumbling the unleavened bread (a.k.a. the "bread of affliction"), soaking it in egg and then frying it up.

"Basically it's the Passover take on French toast," explains Eli Sussman, chef at New York's  Canadian-Jewish deli, Mile End, and co-author with his brother Max, chef at The Cleveland, of The Best Cookbook Ever

"For me, it has sentimental value," Sussman says. "My dad made it every Passover. I have no idea where it originates. I think it's like, 'We have so much matzo sitting around, maybe if we cook it with eggs and milk it will be more palatable than in its original form.'"

Now, a follow-up question: Sweet or savory? The answer: Passover is eight days long, so let's try both.

Representing the sweet side, Sussman gave us his recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Matzo Brei topped with roasted-apple charoset (see the recipe).


Our Test Kitchen took up the savory challenge and came up with a seasonally on-trend and amazingly delicious spring pea and arugula variation. It cuts like a Spanish tortilla and is finished with crème fraîche (see the recipe).

Ruth Reichl once called matzo brei "one of life's perfect foods," though that strikes us as cultural-culinary Stockholm syndrome.

It's just a really good breakfast dish, even if you don't celebrate Passover.

However you make it, Sussman offers this bit of advice: "The whole purpose of matzo is to be very, very plain, so use a lot of sweet or a lot of savory flavors to really mask the matzo."

Mile End (Brooklyn) 97A Hoyt St. Brooklyn NY 11217 718-852-7510 Mile End (Manhattan) 53 Bond St. New York NY 10012 212-529-2990

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