Matzo Dumplings with Rye Butter

SERVES: 3-4, Makes: 25-30 dumplings

The thing about matzo balls is, they’re basically just little dumplings. And though typically you see them served bobbing in a bowl of chicken broth a la matzo ball soup, they’re actually also really special eaten on their own, swathed in garlic butter and flecked with dill and caraway seeds. These are somewhere between gnocchi and gnudi–and if that doesn’t mean anything to you, just know that they are special and delicious and worth a stab any time of year.

Active Time: 1 hr 15 mins

Total Time: 45 mins

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Produce

  • 1 large bunch of dill
  • 1 lemon
  • 5 garlic cloves

Pantry

  • ¼ cup seltzer
  • ¾ cup matzo meal
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Dairy

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter

Protein

  • 3 large eggs

1. Make the matzo dumpling dough:

  • Finely chop most of 1 bunch of dill, reserving just a handful of leaves for garnishing each plate later on. (You should have about ½ cup finely chopped dill)
  • Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a very large skillet. Add the butter to a medium bowl and whisk in 3 large eggs, the chopped dill and ¾ teaspoon salt. Stir in ¼ cup seltzer, followed by ¾ cup matzo meal until a thick batter forms. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill at least 15 minutes and up to overnight. Reserve the skillet you melted the butter in–you'll use it again later on.

2. Cook the dumplings:

  • Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pasta pot. Season with 3 tablespoons salt.
  • Lightly oil a small baking sheet.
  • Grab two small spoons (cereal or ice cream sized) and the bowl of chilled dough. Working one at a time, create almond shaped dumplings with the spoons, transferring them to the oiled baking sheet. You can dip one spoon in the hot water briefly before scooping the dumpling off the other spoon to help release the dough from the other spoon and prevent stickage. This shape is called a “quenelle”--If you’ve never quenelled before, here’s how it's done:
  • Once all of the dumplings are shaped, gently add them to the pot of boiling water, bring it back to simmer, cover the pot with a lid and set a timer for 30 minutes. Check for doneness by scooping out one dumpling and cutting into it. The dumpling should be light and fluffy throughout with no darker dense spots. If it’s not quite there, continue cooking them for 5 minutes longer.

3. Meanwhile, make the caraway butter:

  • As the dumplings cook, work on the sauce. Coarsely crush or chop 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds until coarsely ground.
  • Thinly slice 5 garlic cloves. Cut 4 tablespoons butter into pads (so it's’ no longer in one stick).
  • In the large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 more tablespoons of butter along with the caraway seeds, sliced garlic, and a few big cracks of black pepper until the caraway seeds and garlic are fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Before it starts to brown, add a big ladle (about ½ cup) of the dumpling cooking water to the skillet to stop the cooking. Bring the sauce to a simmer, once it simmers, start adding the 4 cold tablespoons of butter, one at a time, stirring and shaking the pan between additions, and ensuring one pad of butter is fully melted into the sauce before adding the next. By the end the sauce should be thick and bubbling and emulsified. Season with salt until it tastes really good, then remove from heat until the dumplings are done.
  • Once the dumplings are cooked, use a slotted spoon or spider to add them to the skillet of rye butter (it’s ok if some of the water comes over with them, that will help to create the pan sauce.)  Set the skillet over high heat and cook, shaking the pan vigorously and turning the dumplings gently with a spoon to coat them in the caraway butter, until the butter sauce is thick and emulsified. You may need to add more water if the butter sauce looks splitty or oily. The agitation of the pan will thicken the sauce. Once coated and glossy, remove from heat.
  • Cut one lemon into wedges for serving.
  • Divide the dumplings amongs plates or shallow serving bowls. Top each one with a few more sprigs of dill and some flaky sea salt and a lemon wedge alongside.

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