Few things offer the soul-soothing warmth of matzo ball soup. Though, rest assured, this Southern California-inspired version from chef Jon Sloan at The Crack Shack in San Diego is comfort food as Grandmother never made it.
Sloan's posole rojo showcases a savory red broth, flavored with a handful of different chile peppers, along with a robust cast of spices and herbs. It's the perfect foil for the tender matzo ball, which replaces the hominy. Break up the dumpling as you go to let each bite soak up as much of that spicy broth as possible.
To learn more, read "Bowled Over."
Matzo Ball Posole
Recipe from Jon Sloan, The Crack Shack, San Diego, CA
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus 40 minutes chilling and resting time
Cook Time: 3 hours and 10 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours and 40 minutes, plus 40 minutes chilling and resting time
For the Posole:
5 pounds chicken bones
2 poblano peppers
2 jalapeño peppers
4 green onions
2 small onions, cut into wedges
1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup red wine
5 garlic cloves, smashed
2 dried pasilla peppers
2 dried guajillo peppers
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
½ bunch parsley sprigs
½ bunch cilantro sprigs
4 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon dark chili powder
3 quarts chicken stock
1½ cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
For the Matzo Balls:
¼ cup rendered chicken fat
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon chili powder
¾ cup, plus 2 tablespoons, matzo meal
1½ teaspoons chicken bouillon
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3 quarts chicken broth (or 3 quarts water mixed with chicken bouillon)
Shredded chicken meat
Fried tortilla strips
1. Make the posole: Preheat the oven to 450°. On a sheet pan, toss together the chicken bones, poblanos, jalapeños and green onions in vegetable oil. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes until the bones are golden brown and the vegetables are well charred.
2. Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, sauté the onions and carrots over medium-high heat until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until caramelized. Deglaze with the red wine.
3. Add the chicken bones, roast vegetables and remaining posole ingredients and simmer for at least 2 hours. Reserve any chicken fat that floats to the top to make the matzo balls. Strain through a mesh strainer and keep warm on the stove. Just when you're about to serve, season with more salt, black pepper and lime juice.
4. While the stock is reducing, make the matzo balls: Whisk together the eggs, chicken fat, cilantro and chili powder. In a separate bowl, combine the matzo meal, chicken bouillon, baking soda and baking powder. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just incorporated (do not overmix!). Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
5. In a large, wide pot, bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Roll the matzo dough into six balls, gently pinching together any cracks. Add the matzo balls to the broth, cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer on low for 15 minutes.
6. Flip the balls, cover again and let cook for another 30 minutes. Remove them from the pot and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Reserve the cooking liquid for another use.
7. To serve, place the shredded chicken and a matzo ball in a bowl. Ladle over the hot posole broth and top with garnishes as desired.