Try the matzah ball soup recipe that nearly won the finals on Bravo’s Top Chef in Macau, China, and hear the secret to the perfect Southern matzah brei from superstar Chef Sara Bradley on this week’s episode of Jay’s 4 Questions podcast (just in time for Passover)! She talks about growing up in the very small town of Paducah, Kentucky, and what inspires her cooking today. She shares an interesting did-you-know fact that will be sure to surprise you….it has to do with gefilte fish and Manischewitz (hint hint)!
She also shares her journey from Charlotte, NC to Birmingham, AL, NYC, and Chicago, and back to Paducah! She talks about why and how the kitchen is her happy place. Everything she makes sounds delicious! If you are ever in Paducah, be sure to visit Freight House! Tune in today for a culinary adventure and inspiration.
MATZAH BALL SOUP
- 6 to 8 chicken thighs
- 1 Tbsp fennel seed
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 qt water
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 2 Tbsp dried ground mustard
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil
- 2 Tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
- 2 inches fresh ginger root, chopped
- 1 head garlic, split
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 head celery, chopped
- 2 whole cloves black garlic, smashed
- 4 qt chicken or vegetable stock
- 5-10 whole dried shiitakes
- 4×4 piece kombu
- 2 cups matzo meal
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground fennel seed
- 1-2 Tbsp salt
- 1-1/2 Tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
- 6 eggs
- 6 Tbsp vegetable oil or schmaltz (liquid)
- 2-4 oz club soda
- 6 qt water
- 1 Tbsp piri piri seasoning (can use red pepper flake or omit if you don’t want it spicy)
- 3-4 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
- 1 yellow onion, skinned & quartered
- 2-3 carrots, peeled & cut into large pieces
- 3-4 heads small bok choy, separate leaves
- 5-6 whole shiitake mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- In a pot, toast the fennel seeds. Add the salt, sugar, water and bay leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool before pouring over chicken thighs. Let brine overnight.
- Pat thighs dry and rub with mustard and veg oil. Roast on 325 F for 20-25 minutes or until internal temp is 165.
- Once cool, pick the meat from the bones. You can add the juices and bones to your broth for flavor or keep everything separate for vegetarians.
- In a large pot, lightly toast the peppercorns. Add all the chopped vegetables (except the dried shiitakes and kombu). Add the stock, simmer for 30 minutes. Add the shiitakes and kombu and let steep 30 more minutes.
- Season with kosher salt. Don’t be scared of the amount of salt it will take.
- Strain. This can be made a couple of days before needed if desired.
- The trick to a good matzo ball is to not over-mix and do not let the mix sit around for long after it is made. We set a timer for 20 minutes, then start to roll. Do not over roll or compress the matzo balls. just enough to have them stick together.
- Mix all of your dry ingredients in one bowl.
- Mix your eggs and oil in another bowl.
- Gently stir the wet into the dry. Mix until just coming together. Do not over-mix. Taste for seasoning.
- Fold in the club soda. Let sit for 20 minutes.
- While the balls are resting, you should be cooking your chili broth.
- In pot large enough for balls to double in size, simmer the piri piri, celery, onion, and carrot for about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Bring to a boil and add your mixed matzo balls one by one.
- Simmer the matzo balls for 20 minutes covered. It is important to make sure the broth is moving and that the heat isn’t too low.
- Add the bok choy and mushrooms during the last five minutes of cooking.
- We always like to let our matzo balls rest in the broth for 15-20 minutes before serving.
- To serve: scoop out balls and veggies from chili broth. Pour hot mushroom broth over balls.
For more recipes from Chef Sara Bradley, visit https://www.freighthousefood.com/recipes/.
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This episode is brought to you by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Jay’s 4 Questions is hosted by Jay Sanderson and edited by Ariel Aboody. Episodes 1-82 were produced by Alana Weiner. You can listen to individual episodes or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, and SoundCloud.
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