Of course - no Year of the Dumpling could be complete without matzo balls. I normally associate matzo balls with chicken soup, but this Alsatian recipe calls for a hearty beef stew.
Although I had used up the last of my Stonyledge Farm stew beef months ago, I had two packets from my last visit to Predel Ranch in upstate New York. I cobbled together an awesome broth from short ribs, marrow bones, stew beef, thyme, bay leaves, cloves, salt and pepper, an onion and a carrot. The broth recipe called for other vegetables but I dropped off after the carrot. After the beef was tender, I separated it from the broth and shredded it for later.
The recipe called for both matzo crackers and matzo meal, but I didn't want to buy a whole package of crackers and use just two, so I used all matzo meal. I soaked half a cup of the meal (as a substitute for the two crackers) to make a grainy mush, which I then stirred into a pan of sizzling onions, ginger and nutmeg. After adjusting the water ratio to get a workable dough, I let the mixture cool and added two eggs, some more matzo meal, and fresh parsley. Then I left it in the fridge overnight.
Once the stew and the dough were made, dinner was a snap. I brought the broth to a boil and dropped in walnut-sized lumps of dough, covered the pot and let the dumplings simmer for ten minutes on one side, five on the other. In the last couple of minutes I added the beef and carrots. The matzo balls were very flavorful and dense, standing up well to the hearty beef stew.